Public health agencies announce new partnership to support long-term care centers

Virginia National Guard Soldiers and Airmen collect samples for COVID-19 testing at a...
Virginia National Guard Soldiers and Airmen collect samples for COVID-19 testing at a long-term care facility April 28, 2020. (Source: U.S. National Guard photo by Cotton Puryear)(WHSV)
Published: May. 6, 2020 at 12:26 PM EDT
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The Virginia Department of Health and an alliance of Virginia hospitals are joining forces to dedicate more resources to long-term care facilities in Virginia amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the Virginia Hospital & Healthcare Association (VHHA), the Virginia Healthcare Emergency Management Program (VHEMP) helped them develop a new initiative to provide increased support to the kinds of facilities that have been hardest hit by coronavirus outbreaks.

With the help of Russell Phillips and Associates (RPA), a Jensen Hughes Company, the VHHA says they'll be able to increase access to resources for facilities in a number of areas, including infection prevention and control guidance, access to personal protective equipment (PPE) and other medical supplies, access to COVID-19 testing and support, clinical practice and staffing support, and the sharing of best practices.

“This collaborative effort is timely because COVID-19 continues to place significant demands on Virginia’s health care delivery system,” said Dr. Michael P. McDermott, the President and CEO of Mary Washington Healthcare and the Chairman of VHHA’s Board of Directors. “While the virus indiscriminately affects people of all ages and demographics, its severe effects have disproportionately impacted elderly residents in long-term care facilities. In light of these circumstances, and the fact that elderly patients seeking medical care frequently transition between long-term care facilities and hospitals, this pandemic makes it essential for hospitals and long-term care facilities to work together to limit community spread.”

In addition to VHHA, VDH, and VHEMP, the Virginia Health Care Association-Virginia Center for Assisted Living (VHCA-VCAL) and LeadingAge Virginia have also joined the collaborative effort to support long-term care centers. The VHEMP will work with Russell Phillips to obtain regional support and develop operational plans for the needs of specific long-term care facilities and hospitals across Virginia, in partnership with regional health care coalitions in specific areas.

The partnership will focus on providing the following support to long-term care centers:

• Infection prevention and control education and training;

• Access to personal protective equipment (PPE) and other medical supplies, including guidance and training on appropriate reprocessing and use of protective gear;

• Access to COVID-19 testing and testing supplies;

• Clinical practice and communication support;

• Staffing support

• Sharing of best practices and lessons learned by other health care organizations.

“As we continue to battle COVID-19, it is critically important that all facets of the health care system work together to address the impact of this pandemic on Virginians. My deepest appreciation goes out to VHHA and the other partners in this new collaborative, which is focused on caring for residents of long-term care facilities. This is truly an example of the village coming together to take care of one of our most vulnerable populations,” said Virginia State Health Commissioner Dr. M. Norman Oliver.

According to the VHHA, the new collaboration "builds on the long-standing relationship between the long-term care community and hospitals in Virginia. "

They say an example of the effectiveness of that partnership is he development of the

and Memorandum of Understanding, which was established from 2015-2018 when it was formalized.

The LTC-MAP, a pledge between health care providers, long-term care facilities, and nursing homes, has helped health care providers and public health agencies work together to address health care quality and safety issues, like preventing avoidable hospital readmissions and reducing sepsis mortality rates.

“Because the public health challenge presented by COVID-19 crosses so many boundaries, it is imperative for acute health care providers, public health agencies, and long-term care facilities to continue to broaden our existing partnerships as we all work together to combat this virus," said VHHA President and CEO Sean T. Connaughton.