When and How to Isolate Covid+ Residents
A resident who tests or otherwise is presumed to be positive for Covid-19 can put your entire ALF at risk. The decision to keep COVID+ residents opens up your facility to additional reviews from AHCA and the Florida Department of Health, can lead to staff quitting suddenly and family members discharging residents, and naturally puts an entirely new level of strain on your community. Here are some things to consider in the face of this pandemic.
Keeping COVID+ Residents
Your facility is your residents’ home and most will not want to leave, even if they are sick. Additionally, we all have bad experiences with residents receiving unsatisfactory treatment elsewhere and it often feels like no one cares for them as we do. Still more stories are coming in of false positives driving residents out of their ALFs and then meeting resistance when they wish to return.
If you have the capacity to set up your own COVID+ isolation wing within your facility, the Department of Emergency Management is geared up and ready to help you do isolation right, including providing additional training and, possibly, access to PPE resources.
You’ll need to be able to split your staff so that there is no risk of cross-contamination. You will have to either use disposable cutlery and dishware or use a separate dishwasher. Likewise, it might make sense for you to buy a separate laundry machine just to manage COVID+ resident clothing and linens.
If you are not willing or able to safely isolate COVID+ residents, now is the time to make a plan, incorporate it into your COVID Policies & Procedures, and inform residents and family members what will happen if their loved one falls ill.
Of course, residents in need of immediate medical assistance will be transferred to your local hospital, but what about residents who test positive but don’t appear to need urgent care? News reports suggest that individuals with the novel coronavirus can go from basically asymptomatic to very ill, sometimes very quickly. If this is a concern, you will want to have a plan in place to relocate your resident to a Florida AHCA Regional Isolation Facility.
As of July 27th, there should be at least one within a 90 minute drive of your location. We suggest reaching out to the contact on this website (https://ahca.myflorida.com/covid-19_inf.shtml) and inquiring now about how you would transfer a resident, should the need arise. Take notes from these conversations and add them to your COVID Plan for easy reference later.
These COVID-19 Isolation Centers vary in size but all accept patients with any type of (or no) insurance.
They are managed individually, however, through public-private agreements, so an experience in one district may be very different in another. If you have any issue with a transfer, AHCA urges you to call them in Tallahassee ASAP.
Whatever you decide, we hope you will share your experience with the ALFBoss Facebook Group. Thank you and stay safe!
Kathryn Moore is Assistant Administrator at Bay Oaks Historic Retirement Residence, a 73 years young non-profit Assisted Living Facility in Miami, Florida. She is also Principal of KRM Strategies, an intergovernmental affairs and strategic communications consulting firm.