DHEC Reports COVID-19 Deaths Associated with Nursing Homes and Assisted Living Facilities
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
April 28, 2020
COLUMBIA, S.C. — In an ongoing effort to continue to define the extent of COVID-19 within South Carolina’s nursing homes, assisted living and similar facilities, the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) today provided an updated list of the facilities that have been impacted by COVID-19. This updated list includes reporting the loss of residents and staff due to COVID-19 complications.
COVID-19 outbreaks at long-term care facilities are an indicator of ongoing transmission of virus within a community and require an intense focus on infection prevention practices. DHEC has worked, and continues to work, closely with these health care facilities to provide guidance and help implement recommendations for protecting residents as well as the dedicated workers who care for them.
“This virus is taking its toll on many of our state's most vulnerable, including our friends and family who reside in long-term care facilities,” said Dr. Brannon Traxler, DHEC Physician. “DHEC continues to work with facilities and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to provide recommendations and guidance for best practices in controlling the spread of this disease.”
On March 13, Gov. Henry McMaster issued an Executive Order that stopped public visitation to these types of facilities in order to help protect the vulnerable population of residents, staff and visitors. This order is still in effect today. DHEC also has worked with nursing home facilities in South Carolina to review infection control practices, increase testing of residents and staff and group together residents with COVID-19 infections – all critical to preventing ongoing spread of the virus within their facilities.
“We continue to thank all of our health care professionals including our nursing, assisted living and other long-term care facility workers for your selfless work in helping guard against further spread of this disease in those who are most susceptible to it,” Dr. Traxler said.
In order to protect those most vulnerable to serious consequences of this disease, the entire community, including the staff who work in these facilities, must be aware of the risk and continue to practice social distancing, good hand-washing and wearing face masks in public areas, to prevent ongoing transmission of the virus. Nursing home populations also are of particular concern because older residents with chronic medical conditions are at highest risk for complications or death from COVID-19 infection.
Several measures have been implemented statewide to protect residents and staff at nursing homes. This includes that all nursing homes are required to report COVID-19 infections to DHEC. Our disease investigation staff work closely with facilities to prevent additional cases by investigating when a COVID-19 case is reported in an employee or patient. A typical response includes:
- Frontline epidemiologists contact the facility to collect preliminary information about patients and staff.
- Frontline staff connect the facilities with DHEC Infection Preventionists who provide facility-specific consultations.
- Guidance is provided about how to assess possible exposures, restriction of activities, isolation and quarantine measures, appropriate use of personal protective equipment and disease monitoring in staff and patients to rapidly detect additional cases.
DHEC will continue to release new information as it becomes available. For the latest COVID-19 information and updates, visit www.scdhec.gov/covid19.