STATEWIDE – Long-term care facilities have been at the center of some of Maine’s COVID-19 outbreaks.
“We knew that the residents we care for who are elderly and health compromised would be most susceptible to the disease and that there is a very high mortality rate,” President and CEO of Maine Health Care Association Rick Erb said.
An independent commission is now reviewing the performance of Maine’s nursing homes throughout the pandemic.
“The purpose is to take a look at and evaluate nursing homes’ approach to the COVID-19 pandemic to try to learn from what has happened so far and to improve processes,” Erb said. “It could protect residents and going forward to prevent further spread.”
Erb said the commission is made up of 25 federally appointed individuals from across the country, including CEO of Maine Veterans Homes Deborah Fournier.
“We have doctors, nurses, administrators, regulators, consumers, consumer advocates,” Erb said. “It’s a very broad group that will be meeting on this.”
According to Erb, it is challenging to contain the spread of viruses in these settings.
“When you think about the congregate setting that our residents live in and our staff work in, it’s very close quarters,” Erb said. “It’s not too difficult to see why it’s transmitted so quickly.”
He said there have been some successes in preventing the spread, but there is still more to do.
“Early on, we began screening, and we were limiting admission into the facilities by anyone that didn’t need to be there,” Erb said. “We tightened it up even further.”
Erb said the availability of personal protective equipment (PPE) inside these homes is key in preventing the spread of COVID-19.
“It is the best line of defense that we have when we can’t always tell if someone is carrying the virus, so that’s gonna be important for us to continue to be able to provide that,” Erb said.
The recommendations from the commission are expected to be released by Sept. 1.