New York City nursing homes have been hit hard during the pandemic, with data showing high levels of COVID-19 related deaths across the five boroughs.
On May 20, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a plan that will support these nursing homes and their residents.
Beginning next week, the city will offer on-site COVID-19 testing to patients and staff at all 169 nursing homes across the city. To minimize the risk of future outbreaks, the city will also help seniors shift to home-based care.
In the Bronx, there have been 260 confirmed COVID-19 deaths in nursing homes and 452 presumed COVID-19 deaths. Citywide, there are more than 1,200 confirmed nursing home and adult care facility deaths because of COVID-19 and more than 3,000 after adding in presumed COVID-19 deaths
“These past few months have been painful for families across the city — and nowhere has this fear been more acute than among our city’s most vulnerable residents,” de Blasio said. “Seniors are especially at risk for COVID-19, which is why we are marshaling every resource to our nursing homes to help them save lives and prevent future outbreaks.”
Over the next two weeks, deliveries will be made to every nursing home that requests support, with the goal of getting as many people tested as possible. Eventually the goal will be to reduce the frequency to regular, weekly tests as requested and as appropriate to control transmission. With this added support, nursing homes will be able to test up to 3,000 people per day in addition to any of their existing testing capacity and that provided by New York State.
Under guidance from the CDC during an outbreak, nursing home residents should be tested once a week. Staff members are required by New York to be tested twice per week. Additionally, the city will work with the state, who oversees nursing homes, to implement these measures and ensure to ensure proper outbreak management and infectious control procedures.
More staff and support
To meet urgent staffing needs, the city has already placed 240 additional personnel in nursing homes citywide and will continue to surge personnel to meet the goal of 600 personnel total. By end of next week, every nursing home will have staffing they’ve requested.
Outbreak response teams and more home-based care
To prevent further outbreaks, the City has created 10 outbreak response teams in partnership with the Department of Health. Teams will be deployed to nursing homes and other settings to rapidly respond and control outbreaks, including proper adherence to infectious disease protocol, use of Personal Protective Equipment and additional re-testing protocol as needed after the outbreak has ended. Each team will be led by an epidemiologist, with mental health and infection control specialists able to assist as needed.