AHCA keeping a close eye on nursing home facilities after reopening to visitors


NORTHWEST ARKANSAS, (KNWA/KFTA) — The Arkansas Health Care Association is closely monitoring nursing homes in the state right now to see if reopening is causing an increase in positive COVID-19 cases.

The association said 515 nursing home residents tested positive for COVID-19 in July. 412 workers also tested positive for the virus that month.

Bunch said that although it has been a month, they don’t have 30 days’ worth of data on any facilities. That’s because some facilities that reopened had to close because it got a positive case– while some facilities met requirements later in the month.

“Just on the numbers I’ve seen so far, and there is still a lot more to go where we are seeing an increase is in areas where there is community spread. It’s affecting the facilities just like it is every other business and organization out in the community,” said Bunch.

Once the AHCS has acquired more data from nursing home facilities, it will be able to put together future policies for nursing homes.

Bunch said for now all visitation is being encouraged to be held outside to keep everyone safe.

Meanwhile, new technology will make testing much faster for those facilities and could potentially expand visitation. Bunch said rapid testing devices are going to all long term care facilities over the next month or so.

A numbers of facilities in the state are on the early list to receive the device including some in Washington County.

“We’re told that once we get those we’d be able to turn test around within 15 minutes in a lot of cases. So we’d be able to use that for residents and for staff coming in. We’re really excited about the opportunities with that,” said Bunch.

Through the June statewide testing initiative, the AHCA found that about 40-50% of people who tested positive showed no symptoms. Bunch hopes with this new device they will be able to identify those who are sick quicker and isolate them. Essentially keeping residents and staff safer.

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