Credit: Ergin Yalcin/Getty Images Plus
Credit: Ergin Yalcin/Getty Images Plus

Skilled nursing facilities and hospitals that treat or handle COVID-19 patients can expect more focused inspections in the coming weeks under a new initiative launched by the Department of Occupational and Health Administration. 

An OSHA memorandum issued late Monday revealed the agency will be increasing highly focused inspections for SNFs and hospitals with COVID-19 patients.

The announcement came even as some providers began to feel a sense of relief amid the ongoing pandemic. There were 3,100 COVID-19 cases among U.S. nursing home residents as of Sunday, according to the latest federal data — a level that reflects pre-omicron conditions. 

But even if the numbers of patients continues to wane, federal officials appear disinclined to relax their pandemic-era enforcement focus.

The latest OSHA effort is a push to ensure continued mitigation measures help control the spread of COVID-19 amid any future variants. The agency said it also wants to protect healthcare workers who are at heightened risk for contracting the virus. 

The focused inspections will target high-hazard healthcare facilities over a three-month period starting March 9. They will specifically focus on monitoring for current and future readiness to protect workers from COVID-19.

Follow-up inspections will also be conducted at sites that were previously cited. There will also be inspections of facilities that received complaints but didn’t have an in-person investigation. 

The agency plans to verify and assess facility compliance with COVID-19 protocols and readiness to address future surges. 

“We are using available tools while we finalize a healthcare standard,” Doug Parker, OSHA’s assistant secretary of labor, said in a statement. “We want to be ahead of any future events in healthcare.”