There are few communities hit harder by COVID-19 than the elderly nursing home population. Not only are outcomes for older individuals who contract the virus poorer, but the isolation practices necessary to keep them safe can cause a host of new health issues. Although skilled nursing facilities (SNF) are under strict requirements and must be vigilant about isolation and infection control practices to keep COVID-19 at bay, SNFs also need to ensure that depression, anxiety, and confusion don’t take over their facility.
The COVID-19 pandemic has shaken things up for SNFs and affected nearly all day-to-day activities. In order to reduce the burden for SNFs, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has issued a variety of blanket waivers to cut through red tape that SNFs typically face. The waivers are set to last as long as the pandemic is declared a national emergency, although we don’t yet know when that declaration will expire.
Oxygen is necessary for life. Some diseases and conditions prevent enough oxygen from nourishing the body’s tissues, so supplemental oxygen is administered. Oxygen is a basic need at the lowest level of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Needs at the lower levels must be fulfilled before needs at the higher levels become important. Because the need for oxygen is a low level need, the resident who is having trouble breathing cannot focus on much else. Oxygen is a prescription item, and a physician’s order is necessary to administer it to a resident. Your facility policies may permit nurses to administer oxygen in an emergency, but if a general standing order is implemented for a resident, physician notification and a proper order are necessary.
As organizations around the country are beginning to reopen, the future for SNFs is still up in the air. “[The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS)] has emphasized that our SNFs are some of the most vulnerable populations and vulnerable facilities,” says Stefanie Corbett, DHA, founder of Corbett Healthcare Solutions, so before returning to any sense of normalcy, there are many precautions that SNFs need to take. While each state can create its own criteria for reopening SNFs, there are guidelines that all SNFs should follow for the safety of their staff, residents, and visitors.