Close up image of a caretaker helping older woman walk

Virginia providers are calling on state officials to aggressively test residents prior to being discharged from hospitals into nursing homes. 

The pleas have come repeatedly over the last two months in response to a state policy that allows hospitals to release patients into nursing homes without getting tested for COVID-19 if they aren’t showing symptoms, the Virginia Mercury reported.

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) has received multiple letters from state long-term care groups — including LeadingAge Virginia and Virginia Healthcare Association-Virginia Center for Assisted Living — asking the state to address the guidance and consider testing asymptomatic patients before they’re discharged. 

The report noted that guidance states that “testing should not be required prior to transfer of a resident from an acute-care facility to a nursing home,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website. The guidelines were last updated April 30.  

However, it does require facilities to create a plan for managing new admissions and readmissions whose COVID-19 status is unknown. It adds that options for nursing homes include “placement in a single room or in a separate observation area so the resident can be monitored for evidence of COVID-19.” 

Top health officials have repeatedly said that federal guidance is “very clear” in that nursing homes shouldn’t take COVID-19 patients if they’re not prepared to take care of that patient.

Several states, including New York, have faced extreme criticism for implementing policies that forced nursing homes to take in all discharged hospital patients regardless of their COVID-19 status. New York officials later reversed the decision and have claimed the original policy was inline with federal guidance.