Image of male nurse pushing senior woman in a wheelchair in nursing facility

“Immediate” implementation of best infection control products and practices should be occurring amid mushrooming COVID-19 fears, the nation’s largest nursing home association notified provider leaders last week. 

That includes the following, if they haven’t been done already: placing hand-washing stations or alcohol-based hand rubs by all entryways, cleaning non-disposable medical equipment between each use, and screening any equipment newly coming into a facility.. 

Time to come clean: Long-term care providers' infection control practices are becoming more intensel

Also, laundry practices, food service utensils and medical waste management fall under the environmental cleaning and disinfection procedure warnings. The virus, which has created a global pandemic, can remain on surfaces long after an infected person infects a certain area or item, scientists have warned. In addition, the elderly are extremely susceptible to illness or death from COVID-19. 

“Preventing and mitigating the spread of COVID-19 in long-term care centers is the top priority. Environmental infection control practices are essential to reduce the risk of the virus entering nursing centers and assisted living communities,” the American Health Care Association wrote in a memo to providers. 

Providers also should be using cleaning and disinfection products with EPA-approved emerging viral pathogens claims that can be used against COVID-19. 

“Specific claims for ‘COVID-19’ will not appear on the product or master label. If there are no available EPA-registered products that have an approved emerging viral pathogen claim for COVID-19, products with label claims against human coronaviruses should be used according to label instructions,” the association explained. 

Last week, the AHCA announced “unprecedented” guidance that calls for providers to actively screen and limit visitor access to facilities amid the coronavirus outbreak in the United States.