Nursing Home Workers Ordered to Use PPE in All Interactions With Residents
Nursing home staff who are in close contact with residents must wear personal protective equipment at all times — including a face mask, eye protection, gloves, and a gown — under a directive issued by the state on Sunday.
In addition, facilities must designate a portion of their staff and establish a separate unit for residents who have, or are suspected of having, COVID-19 infection. That unit would be used for the treatment and observation of existing residents as well as those who are newly-admitted or readmitted from another facility.
The new rules come as state officials scramble to keep the virus from spreading at nursing home facilities more than it already has.
“As we have been saying for several weeks, older Marylanders and those with underlying health conditions are more vulnerable and at a significantly higher risk of contracting, getting more severely ill, and dying from this disease,” said Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R) in a statement Sunday.
“Of major concern is that we currently have cases or clusters of cases at 81 nursing homes and long-term care facilities across the state,” he added.
Nursing homes that run low on PPE supplies can order more from the state, according to a Department of Health directive.
Hogan’s order also requires “expedited testing” for patients and staff who are exhibiting signs of coronavirus infection. And it creates a “right of return” for nursing home residents admitted or seen at a hospital for COVID-19 treatment.
The state Department of Health’s Office of Health Care Quality “will assist acute care hospitals, if necessary, in discharging patients who require nursing-home level care,” the administration said in a news release on Sunday.
“Facilities must cooperate with the Office of Health Care Quality and hospitals in the placement of discharged patients.”