Indiana long-term care facilities can now transfer, relocate residents to reduce COVID-19 risk

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — State health officials are now allowing long-term care facilities to transfer, discharge, or relocate residents to reduce the risk of COVID-19.

The Indiana Health Care Association (IHCA) says state and federal guidelines are pushing facilities to split their locations into three dedicated spaces: an area for confirmed COVID-19 negative residents, one for people who are showing symptoms but haven’t been tested, and a third for residents with positive cases.

They suggest health care providers in those facilities stay assigned to each unit to reduce cross contaminations.

For smaller facilities, it can be broken down into two sections: positive and negative.

“Really does depend on the available personal protective equipment and the space in a nursing facility to properly isolate,” explains IHCA President Zach Cattell.

Cattell adds the majority of facilities, large or small, are telling the IHCA they can cohort their residents together safely.

Lacy Clayton Barnett is a 92-year-old nursing home resident in Wayne County. He is a veteran and spent time across the Navy and the Army. During his career he was in World War II, the Korean War, and Vietnam. He was a medical administrator during his military career, and he was an administrator for two Indiana hospitals once he retired from the Army. He says the heroes wing for veterans at his nursing home is being converted into a space for patients who need to be rehabilitated after leaving the hospital after battling COVID-19.

“These would be the ones who are not ready to go home,” explains Barnett who is currently not showing any symptoms and has not tested positive for the coronavirus. “They have me moved to another room. What is twenty beds? What are they going to gain by the mere twenty beds? Seems like they would be looking for a facility where they could put 500 beds.”

Fourteen years ago Barnett was diagnosed with lung cancer and survived. Given the impact of COVID-19 on the lungs and his advanced age, Barnett knows he’s a prime target for the illness.

“There are so many unknowns about the virus,” says Barnett, “All of the other people in the nursing home could be contaminated.”

The Indiana State Health department says facilities can volunteer to take in these patients. State Health Commissioner Dr. Kristina Box said facilities, “Would basically stand up and say we want to become a COVID-19 unit.”

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