State Watch

Connecticut asks nursing homes to accept hospital transfers with COVID-19

Connecticut is asking nursing homes to accept COVID-19-positive patients discharged from hospitals as the state looks to alleviate the burden on the healthcare system during the latest wave of the pandemic.

New guidance from the Connecticut Department of Public Health says post-acute care facilities, a category which includes nursing homes, should take in patients discharged from a hospital ‘regardless of COVID-19 status,’ according to a memo dated Jan. 6.

This comes as more than 80 percent of nursing homes in Connecticut are reporting positive cases of COVID-19 among residents or staff, according to The Connecticut Mirror. And while Connecticut has fully vaccinated more than 92 percent of residents aged 65 to 74 and 86.9 percent of those 75 or older, according to data from the state health department, early studies have shown that the mutated omicron variant evades the immunity granted by vaccines more than past strains of the virus.

The new guidance should still give the state’s 209 nursing homes enough wiggle room to refuse patients if they can’t care for them, said Matthew Barrett, the president and CEO of the Connecticut Association of Health Care Facilities.

“The guidance that came out today, we don’t interpret it initially as in any way undermining a nursing home’s very appropriate authority and ability to refuse a hospital admission, if the nursing home believes it is unable to meet the care needs of the resident due to staffing issues,” he told the Mirror. “And staffing issues are present all across the state and especially in Connecticut nursing homes.”

A spokesperson for Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont said if a nursing home refuses a patient, the hospital is responsible for finding another place for the person, according to the CT Mirror.

Guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that states considering “relief healthcare” facilities must ensure that transferring patients won’t compromise those facilities’ ability to combat the spread of the virus internally.

Additionally, the facilities must have an “adequate number of trained healthcare professionals, sufficient space to accommodate additional patients, appropriate PPE, and other equipment and supplies to care for these patients,” according to the CDC guidance.

The news comes as 82 percent of Connecticut’s inpatient hospital beds, including 81 percent of its intensive care unit beds, were occupied as of last week, per data from Johns Hopkins University.

Tags Connecticut Connecticut Department of Public Health COVID-19 nursing homes Omicron variant

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