As COVID-19 cases spiked in New York, several skilled nursing medical directors and geriatricians met virtually to share what they had learned about the novel disease. Those conversations led to rare, SNF-specific recommendations published in JAMDA.

“Managing COVID-19 in the SNF is uniquely challenging because the SNF serves both as a home and a medical facility,” wrote corresponding author Paula Lester, M.D., a geriatrician at NYU Winthrop Hospital. “The time has come to consolidate our learnings as a field in terms of caring for at-risk elderly … especially as we prepare for a potential second wave of infections.”

The recommendations include creating COVID-19-specific units; conducting twice-daily resident screenings; reviewing advance directives; and using serial testing to identify infected staff. 

In a McKnight’s interview, Lester urged as-yet unaffected facilities to use the recommendation to prepare for a “likely eventual outbreak.” 

“Facilities without cases currently should assess if they have sufficient and appropriate PPE, retrain staff on infection control and proper use of PPE, rethink their visitation policies and out-on-pass procedures, anticipate need for back-up staff and strategize for COVID-positive units or areas,” she said. “Anticipating and preparing for COVID in a SNF is a highly proactive and vital process.”