Conn learns little from Cuomo fiasco, wants nursing homes to take in hospital transfers with COVID-19

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With the Omicron variant sweeping the nation, Connecticut recently issued guidance pressuring nursing homes to accept COVID-19 positive patients after their hospital stay despite the early pandemic lesson New York provided when then-Governor Andrew Cuomo issued an order that forced thousands of COVID positive patients back into nursing homes that allegedly caused a significant rise in death counts.

“Hospitalized patients should be discharged from acute care whenever clinically indicated, regardless of COVID-19 status.” read the guidance from the Connecticut Department of Public Health (DPH). “Meeting criteria for discontinuation of isolation precautions (also known as transmission-based precautions) is not a prerequisite for discharge from a hospital. PAC providers should be equipped to safely care for individuals with active COVID-19 who are ready for discharge from acute care.”

Prior to the new Jan 6 guidance, a negative test was required prior to transfer.

According to Matthew Barrett, CEO of the Connecticut Association of Health Care Facilities, nursing homes can still potentially refuse transfers although the guidance asks facilities to report the reason they are unable to do so.

“The guidance that came out today, we don’t interpret it initially as in any way undermining a nursing home’s very appropriate authority and ability to refuse a hospital admission, if the nursing home believes it is unable to meet the care needs of the resident due to staffing issues — and staffing issues are present all across the state and especially in Connecticut nursing homes,” Barrett explained to the CT Mirror. “So we don’t view the memo that came out today or the guidance document from the Department of Public Health in any way, shape, or form undermining that clear authority.”

The change may be a reflection of the general consensus that Omicron is proving to be a much more mild iteration of the virus. That is unless you are Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor who declared on Friday during oral arguments related to the vaccine mandate cases that “Omicron is as deadly as Delta.”

Recent data released by DPH showed that for the case counts through Dec. 28 about 80 percent of nursing homes already had COVID positive residents.

Reports in the last few weeks have also indicated what many have believed all along that the hospital case counts are grossly exaggerated due to people who were admitted to the hospital for an entirely different reason and end up testing positive for the virus at some point during their stay.

Despite the state relaxing the COVID transfer policy for elderly patients, Gov. Ned Lamont’s spokesperson Max Reiss indicated that the state would be doubling down on its vaccination policy and requiring boosters for nursing home staff by Feb. 11.

“We want all of the nurses at the nursing homes with a third shot, which I consider fully vaccinated, by Feb. 11,” Lamont said, explaining“that will pay dramatic dividends that will open up capacity in our hospitals and make it easier for us to transfer people from the hospitals to the nursing homes and allow us to get back to more regular and normal hours in our nursing homes.”

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