COVID-19 outbreaks in nursing homes result of "a perfect storm," says expert

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Wednesday, April 15, 2020
Action News coverage of the coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak

UNIVERSITY CITY (WPVI) -- A Penn Nursing expert says the increasing number of coronavirus outbreak in nursing homes is "a perfect storm."

Dr. Nancy Hodgson says the very nature of the homes makes infection control very hard.

"It's a very intimate social environment, with congregate housing, and all activities are done in groups, and it's a home filled with medically vulnerable individuals who typically have compromised immune systems, who need a lot of hands-on care," says Hodgson.

And she says most staff aren't well-trained in infection control.

"They're very well-trained in compassionate care, which has been the priority, she says.

Once the first resident develops symptoms, Hodgson says testing, isolation, quarantine, and stepped-up disinfection are critical.

In the future, she believes more attention needs to be paid to infection control, having enough personal protective gear, and handwashing.

"I think we'll all pay more attention to handwashing after being through this," she notes.

And Dr. Hodgson believes there'll be major fundamental changes to homes after this pandemic, including better staff training, smaller group settings for activities, and more private sleeping quarters.

"Newer homes are already designed this way, but older ones still have a lot of group spaces," she notes.