December 23, 2021
Contact: Eric Heisler, eheisler@phca.org
Cell: 717-678-1031

PHCA calls for community support to keep long-term care residents healthy

HARRISBURG, Pa. (Dec. 23, 2021) –– As the holiday season continues with an increase in families connecting with loved ones in long-term care, the Pennsylvania Health Care Association (PHCA) is asking visitors to help do their part in keeping vulnerable residents healthy and safe from COVID-19 and other illnesses.

The spread of COVID-19 cases among the general public in Pennsylvania continues to climb to levels not seen since this time last year when the state reached its highest case counts during the pandemic. Fortunately, data on COVID-19 cases in Pennsylvania nursing homes shows resident case counts are not following the same trend this year as we saw last year. Long-term care providers continue to diligently work to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 that enters buildings from those in the community.

With expected increased foot traffic at long-term care facilities during the holiday season, and to help keep residents and their providers of care healthy and safe, PHCA is asking the general public to consider the following tips for healthy visits:

  • Prior to visiting a loved one in a long-term care facility, be mindful of any contact you may have had with people in your community that may have tested positive for COVID-19 or fell ill to any other transmissible virus. Consider taking a COVID-19 test 24-48 hours in advance of a visit.
  • Contact the long-term care facility to inquire about visiting. Make sure there isn’t a current outbreak in a facility that would create visitation complications. 
  • Consider limiting the amount of people visiting a resident in a long-term care facility to help reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19 or other illnesses, especially the number of younger children who may have more difficulty in adhering to infection control policies. Providers may limit how many visitors are allowed in a resident’s room –– including a roommate –– to determine safe social distancing. A provider might also be able to provide a communal space for visitors to gather with a loved one. Consult with the provider in advance of a visit.
  • If willing, inquire with the long-term care provider about setting up a virtual visit to further reduce the risks of spreading a virus.
  • When visiting a long-term care facility, respect the infection control policies established within the building. Face masks or face coverings are required in all health care settings. Be prepared to sanitize your hands, have your temperature checked and answer survey questions to determine any concerns of recent contact with the COVID-19 virus.
  • Have a conversation with your loved one to make sure they are vaccinated, and if eligible, receive a booster shot. Nearly 90% of all nursing homes residents in Pennsylvania are fully vaccinated. 
    • If your loved one lives with a cognitive impairment, and you serve as a surrogate to make their health decisions, consider the benefits of the COVID-19 vaccine and a booster for the resident. Speak with a facility administrator about getting your loved one vaccinated. 

Our healthcare heroes have remained committed to serving on the front line of care during the COVID-19 pandemic. PHCA continues to ask for the public’s support of our healthcare heroes. Community members can show their support by helping to protect the health of caregivers and the residents they care for. 

The long-term care sector continues to face workforce challenges, creating an access to care issue for many seniors and hospital patients in need of being discharged for continued care. PHCA has asked the Pennsylvania Department of Health and Governor Wolf’s office to allocate $200 million in American Rescue Plan funds to providers for the purpose of issuing bonuses to frontline caregivers in long-term care facilities. 

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