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When COVID-19 Hit NY, Nursing Facilities’ Infection Control Assessments Went Virtual


March 26, 2021

During the initial COVID-19 outbreak in New York, more than 90 skilled nursing facilities took part in virtual infection prevention and control (IPC) assessments. Researchers described the pilot project in a study published online ahead of print in Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology.

“Remote IPC assessments by telephone and video provided a timely and feasible method to assess the extent to which IPC interventions had been implemented in a vulnerable setting and to disseminate real-time recommendations,” researchers wrote.

Virtual assessments occurred over a pivotal 2 weeks in March 2020 when the New York region was the COVID-19 epicenter of the United States. Some 92 skilled nursing facilities in 14 New York counties, including New York City, completed an IPC screening tool and participated in a phone-based IPC checklist. For 52 facilities, the assessment was part of an active COVID-19 investigation. At the remaining 40, assessment was a proactive attempt to prevent COVID-19 infection.

Just over a quarter of the skilled nursing facilities also took part in COVID-19 IPC assessment via video, what researchers dubbed “COVIDeo.” Video assessments, they wrote, “provided observations other tools would have missed,” such as improperly worn or stored personal protective equipment and specific issues implementing IPC in certain populations.

Taking about an hour per assessment, the remote assessments reached four times as many skilled nursing facilities as could be reached with onsite visits, the study found.

“Remote assessments are now being implemented across New York State and in various health care facility types,” researchers wrote. “Similar methods have been adapted nationally through Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.”

Jolynn Tumolo

Reference:

Ostrowsky B, Weil LM, Olaisen R, et al. Real-Time Virtual Infection Prevention and Control Assessments in Skilled Nursing Homes, New York, March 2020 - A Pilot Project [published online ahead of print, 2021 Mar 19]. Infect Control Hosp Epidemiol. 2021;1-27. doi:10.1017/ice.2021.100

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