CORONAVIRUS

Utah Nursing Homes, Care Facilities Following CDC Coronavirus Guidelines

Mar 3, 2020, 8:48 PM | Updated: Jun 22, 2022, 3:38 pm

SALT LAKE CITY – Several questions were raised about what nursing homes and assisted living facilities in Utah are doing to keep the coronavirus away after multiple residents at a nursing home in Washington died from the virus.

Experts said staying safe boils down to good information, and a lot of personal responsibility.

While state health officials have said the risk of catching COVID-19 in Utah is low, they warn it is likely to arrive. That’s why nursing homes and assisted living facilities need to take extra precautions.

“Colds and flu can spread through facilities like this pretty quickly,” said Kim Correa, the executive director of The Inn Between, a hospice for the homeless. “People living at The Inn Between are medically frail, or terminally ill, and they need to have a really clean environment because they are more prone to things like infections.”

Correa said they’re following the guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, disinfecting handrails and other surfaces regularly at the facility.

“We’re doing everything we can to mitigate the spread of infection, or cold, or virus,” she said.

As a health care facility, she said they already take precautions to prevent the spread of dangerous germs.

“This just meant that we’re taking even extra precautions,” she said.

They’re not only taking precautions with residents, but also with staff and visitors. A sign was placed on the front door of the facility, urging people who were sneezing, coughing, or running a fever to stay out.

Correa said the Utah Health Care Association shared the CDC guidelines with elderly facilities statewide.

The association started working with their members several weeks ago when concerns about the coronavirus began to emerge.

“As questions came in from our members, we would answer them,” said Allie Spangler, Utah Health Care Association director of membership. “But we’ve been trying to be very proactive and getting them information out before they might even have some of those questions.”

Health officials advised nursing homes and assisted living facilities to prepare the facility, making sure it is up-to-date on infection prevention procedures.

“Make sure everyone in the facility is hand washing, using alcohol-based hand sanitizers – a lot of the things that they should be doing already with the flu season,” said Spangler.

Spangler said visits should be limited in order to keep germs out. She recommended staying in touch with Skype calls.

Preparing employees for germ prevention is just as important.

“Reminding them that if their employees are sick, keep them home, stay home,” said Spangler. “Something like this is not new; they’ve got protocols and procedures already in place for respiratory illnesses. We’re trying to just stay on top of it to prevent not just the coronavirus, but the cold or the flu.”

The Utah Department of Health said they are not doing inspections of nursing homes or assisted-living facilities for the coronavirus.

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Utah Nursing Homes, Care Facilities Following CDC Coronavirus Guidelines