Connecticut asks nursing homes to accept COVID patients from hospitals as staffing shortage persists

Connecticut is requesting that its nursing homes accept hospital patient transfers with COVID-19. 

The State of Connecticut Department of Public Health is asking post-acute care facilities, which include skilled nursing facilities, long-term care hospitals, inpatient rehabilitation facilities and home health agencies, to accept hospital transfer patients with COVID-19. 

Those facilities “should be equipped to safely care for individuals with active COVID-19 who are ready for discharge from acute care,” according to the memo dated Jan. 6. Discharge cannot be delayed for pending test results, as nursing homes already have quarantine policies based on vaccination status. 

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The new guidance comes as more than 80% of nursing homes in Connecticut are reporting positive cases among residents and staff, The Connecticut Mirror reported. State health department data shows that more than 92% of residents aged 65 to 74 and 86.9% of those 75 or older are fully vaccinated. 

However, early studies indicate vaccines do not offer as much protection against omicron, now the dominant variant in the U.S., as they have against previous versions of the coronavirus.

Matthew Barrett, the president and CEO of the Connecticut Association of Health Care Facilities, told The Mirror that the new state department policy should still allow nursing homes to reject COVID-19 patients if they are not equipped to care for them due to widespread staffing shortages.  

A spokesperson for Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont told the newspaper that if nursing homes reject COVID-19 patients, the hospitals will still be responsible for finding another place for the person to stay. 

Lamont’s office did not return Fox News Digital’s request for comment on Monday.

At the onset of the pandemic, former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo instituted a policy requiring nursing homes to accept COVID-19 patients released from hospitals, a move that was later largely criticized for contributing to thousands more nursing home deaths from the disease. 

The new initiative in Connecticut requires nursing homes and other post-acute care facilities to develop a plan for managing new admissions in accordance with current CDC guidance. 

That guidance says states considering “relief healthcare” must ensure nursing homes welcoming COVID-19 hospital transfers must ensure doing so won’t jeopardize the facility’s ability to stop the spread of the virus internally. The CDC adds that those facilities must have “adequate number of trained healthcare professionals, sufficient space to accommodate additional patients, appropriate PPE, and other equipment and supplies to care for these patients. “

The state health department memo requires isolation for individuals recently diagnosed with SARS-CoV-2 infection until they meet “criteria for discontinuation of isolation precautions.” Individuals who recovered from an infection in the past 90 days who remain asymptomatic do not require quarantine or isolation and do not need to be tested unless symptomatic or otherwise necessary, the memo says. 

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Testing can be requested for fully vaccinated individuals who are asymptomatic. 

In general, unvaccinated individuals who are new admissions and re-admissions should be placed in a 14-day quarantine, according to the state health department. 

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