NCDHHS launches testing initiative for nursing homes

North Carolina
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RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCT) The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) will partner with Omnicare, a CVS Health company, to make facility-wide testing available to residents and staff in all North Carolina skilled nursing facilities.

There are over 400 nursing homes in the state with approximately 36,000 residents and more than 30,000 staff.

Testing will begin in July and continue through August.

NCDHHS already recommends that nursing homes with one or more cases test all staff and residents.

This initiative further makes testing available to all nursing homes to conduct a baseline test of all residents and staff. 

CVS Health will bill insurance as possible, and NCDHHS will cover any additional costs for testing.

Facilities should continue to follow recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for repeat testing and work with the community and private vendors to support ongoing testing needs. 

These actions build on earlier measures North Carolina has taken to protect residents and staff in long-term facilities, including:

  • Issuing Executive Order 138 which codified public health and safety requirements for long-term care facilities, including requiring staff to wear surgical masks and screenings all staff and residents for signs and symptoms of COVID-19 daily.
  • Distributing PPE to over 3,000 state-licensed long-term care facilities, including 14-day supplies of gloves, procedure masks, and face shields.
  • Conducting remote infection prevention and control consultation with skilled nursing and other long-term facilities across the state through a partnership with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the North Carolina Statewide Program for Infection Control and Epidemiology.
  • Providing targeted funding to support nursing homes and adult care homes to provide the intensive care needed for residents with COVID-19 and limit the spread of the virus to other residents and staff. 
  • Providing a toolkit to support long-term care facilities in preparing for and responding to COVID-19 outbreaks in their facility. The toolkit contains an infection control assessment, infection staffing worksheet, infection prevention educational resources, and other tools. 
  • Helping to fill staffing shortages in long-term care facilities and other health care facilities through a partnership with East Carolina University School of Nursing to match Registered Nurses and Certified Nursing Assistants with facilities, particularly long-term care facilities, seeking to urgently hire staff for temporary, part-time or full-time roles. Interested health care employees can register at nc.readyop.com/fs/4cjq/697b. 
  • Implementing several temporary regulatory changes to assist providers in caring for their residents during the COVID-19 pandemic, including adopting an emergency rule granting reciprocity to nurse aides certified in other states to work as nurse aides in North Carolina and allowing facilities to exceed the number of licensed beds if needed to provide temporary shelter and services to adequately care for residents with COVID-19.
  • Providing virtual training for more than 2,000 staff working in long-term care sites. Training is available online at www.ncahec.net/covid-19/webinars.

A list of additional guidance for long-term care facilities can be found here: https://covid19.ncdhhs.gov/guidance#long-term-care-facilities.

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