Long term care facilities have unique challenges with COVID-19. They most often care for a vulnerable population that is identified as “high risk” for COVID-19 and the nature of care the employees provide there, which can include bathing, feeding, and toileting. These acts of care can create an increased risk of spreading infection.
These front line health care workers should be commended for their dedication and their resiliency. The St. Louis County Department of Public Health (DPH) is doing everything it can to protect these workers so that they can continue to protect their patients, who are our loved ones and neighbors.
Out of preparedness, the St. Louis County Department of Public Health (DPH) developed a “High Risk Task Force Team.” This team of volunteer doctors and registered nurses was created early in the pandemic response to serve as a liaison between the long-term care facility and DPH. Working remotely, volunteers have built relationships with facility administrators to answer questions, meet informational needs and monitor each facilities’ supply of personal protective equipment (PPE). In some cases, the task force has worked with the St. Louis County Police Office of Emergency Management to provide PPE in order to alleviate resource gaps at certain facilities and keep their employees protected. Attached is some guidance that has been provided to long term care facilities.
PPE continues to be used at an increased rate by healthcare workers. When providing care, this equipment is critical to keeping themselves, patients and others such as healthcare support staff safe. Challenges still exist in the supply shortages related to PPE. Therefore, healthcare facilities, EMS providers and law enforcement agencies are finding alternative ways to maintain supply levels while still providing a high level of care to the public. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has presented “optimization strategies” for when PPE supplies are low or known to becoming low. These strategies help to lengthen the burn rate of PPE usage during critical needs. Components of extending PPE supply levels include:
The Dignified Transfer Center received its first decedent yesterday, April 22. Shortly thereafter, the decedent was transferred to a local cremation center per prior arrangement.
The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services hotline can be reached at (877) 435-8411.
St. Louis County has created a website dedicated to the dissemination of information relating to COVID-19, stlcorona.com. Please visit that website or those belonging to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) or the World Health Organization (WHO) for the most current and reputable information.