In early March, Washington State experienced the nation’s first COVID-19 nursing home* outbreak, and the state quickly developed a response plan to address outbreaks at other nursing homes. Candace Goehring is director of Residential Care Services in Washington State’s Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS), the agency that regulates and performs complaint investigations into nursing facilities. She took time to answer questions from the National Academy for State Health Policy about the state’s COVID-19 nursing home response plan.
In several states, nursing home staff and residents make up nearly half of residents who have died from COVID-19, including 55 percent of deaths caused by the coronavirus in Massachusetts. While hospitals’ personal protective equipment (PPE) shortages have been highlighted, less attention has been paid to the critical need for PPE and infection control expertise at nursing homes. In response, states are launching rapid-response initiatives to assess and stabilize patients and provide infection control recommendations and support.