Providers are again warning against state efforts that would force nursing homes to accept all admissions from hospitals during the coronavirus pandemic, saying the plans are “not sound policy” and could lead to more COVID-19 cases, even deaths.

Skilled nursing providers in California and New York have been given state orders to accept all hospital patients even regardless of if they have COVID-19.

State officials must consider the disease’ estimated 30% mortality rate for nursing homes and assisted living communities before putting similar blanket orders in place for other facilities, long-term care provider groups wrote in a letter

The group is composed of the American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living, AMDA – The Society of Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine, and the American College of Health Care Administrators. 

“We are aware that other states may already be adopting a similar approach in order to free up hospital beds. This is a short-term and short-sighted solution that will only add to the surge in COVID-19 patients that require hospital care,” the groups wrote. 

They added that the decision to transfer patients to nursing homes are joint responsibilities since new admissions can impact the health of all other residents. Other factors like amount of supplies, staffing, infection control capabilities and physical structure must also be taken into account. 

The groups called on states to only take targeted action in areas where hospital overflow is an issue, and develop and implement options for alternate care sites and staffing to accommodate expected hospital overflow. 

“A blanket, one-size-fits-all approach statewide, which will include areas of the state that are not as severely impacted as others, will result in more people going to the hospital and more deaths than using a more strategic and collaborative approach that takes all of the above elements into consideration,” they wrote. 

Nursing home hit hard

Meanwhile, facilities throughout the nation are starting to see the devastating effects of COVID-19. A breaking news story in the Boston Globe Thursday reported that COVID-19 is ripping through nursing homes in Massachusetts, leaving a trail of death in its wake. At least 15 people in the last 12 days have died of what appeared to be coronavirus infections or related complications at Charlwell House Health & Rehabilitation Center in Norwood, the report said.

And the Louisiana Department of Health identified 47 long-term care facilities that are showing signs of being “clusters” of the coronavirus

In other coronavirus-related news:

• Some facilities are now advising family members to pull their residents from nursing homes, if feasible, in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The advice comes as some workers fear they don’t have enough personal protective equipment to treat patients and stop the spread. 

• In brighter news, an Illinois provider has developed “Activity Room Service” door hangers that allows residents to order any activity they want during the day; while Talk Show host Jimmy Kimmel recently offered his support to a New York facility during the pandemic.