A major post-acute care provider said Tuesday it has begun posting online explicit COVID-19 data from all of its facilities in response to increased calls for transparency. 

PruittHealth announced that it is now publishing location-specific COVID-19 data on its website in an effort to keep families informed during the pandemic. The provider, which has more than 180 locations, reported about 260 positive cases throughout its facilities, including several recoveries. They also have about 260 pending cases.

The provider’s data will be updated daily and reflects the number of patients testing for COVID-19 as of the prior day. The published numbers are also pending validation by public health officials. 

Posted information tells numbers in the following categories for each facility: current census, Admitted Positive, Pending, Negative, Positive, Recovered and Alert Code (Red or Amber).

60 seconds with ... Neil L. Pruitt Jr.
Neil L. Pruitt Jr.

“As more patients are tested, we anticipate seeing an initial increase in presumptive positive tests, similar to what we see across the nation as additional testing centers open to the public,” Chairman and CEO Neil Pruitt Jr. said in a statement. 

“These presumptive positive results do not necessarily mean patients are experiencing symptoms, but we felt strongly that this is exactly the kind of information families and our communities would want to know,” he added. 

The move comes after both the American Health Care Association and LeadingAge called on providers to report all COVID-19-positive cases to authorities. Both associations said reporting the data could also help identify providers most at need of testing and the resources. 

Long-term care providers in Ohio likely will have to follow suit soon. 

Gov. Mike DeWine (R) announced Monday that the state’s health director will soon issue an order requiring nursing homes and senior living centers to notify residents and family members of any coronavirus cases at the facility within 24 hours, local media outlets reported.

In addition, the federal government could soon call for facilities to report COVID-related numbers, according to published reports in recent days.

In other coronavirus-related news

•  LeadingAge Director of Nursing Home Quality & Policy Jodie Eyigor urged long-term care employees on a daily COVID-19 call Tuesday to make sure they are taking care of themselves, in addition to patients, “in regards to mental health and psycho-social functioning.”

Dealing with confused and often anxious patients, who are viewing masked caregivers covered in PPE, adds to everyone’s stress load, Eyigor pointed out. Away from work, strains of sheltering in place and a variety of family concerns add to the pressure for employees.

“We need to know the signs that something’s not right,” Eyigor emphasized. “We all know about sadness and tearfulness, but there’s also signs like irritability or apathy. Additional physical complaints, pain and fatigue also can be telltale signs of psycho-social problems” with patients.

She said it is important to “spread the facts” about COVID-19. 

“This will help folks feel a better sense of control, and maybe help lessen the fear, if they know what’s going on and how the virus really spreads and what they can do to protect themselves,” she explained. “Try to demystify or destigmatize the stress side of this. One way you can do it is by calling it stress, because some people aren’t comfortable with calling it mental health or depression or trauma. But if you’re talking about stress, which this truly is, then that might be something that gets people more willing to talk about it.

While providing information is good, turning off the news also can be important, she said.

“Sometimes if we have mainstream media on, whether the news at night or reading in the newspapers, there’s a little bit of a tendency for sensationalizing, and that’s not helpful. Not to say they all do it, but it happens.”

Keep staff coordinating with employee assistance programs as warranted, Eyigor counseled.

“Remember, ALL staff are susceptible to this,” she reminded. “We’re not just talking about nurses and clinical staff. Your dietary staff are seeing this on a daily basis, your housekeeping staff are seeing this on a daily basis, and any other person working in your building is exposed to this.”

• CMS has made available to providers a COVID-19 frequently asked questions document on Medicare Fee-for-Service Billing.

• In brighter news, residents at an Ohio skilled nursing facility were allowed a surprise visit from a special guest over the weekend. The Easter Bunny made an appearance at the Rolling Hills Rehab and Care Center in Bridgeport, OH, thanks to an employee who volunteered to don the costume.