HealthDay News — Michigan nursing homes (NHs) are better prepared for pandemics now than they were in 2007, according to a study published online April 15 in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

Karen M. Jones, R.N., from the University of Michigan Medical School in Ann Arbor, and colleagues conducted an online survey of state health department-registered NHs in Michigan during the week the first COVID-19 case in Michigan was diagnosed. Questions were adapted from a 2007 pandemic preparedness survey to assess COVID-19 preparedness.

Based on responses from 130 of the 426 registered NHs, the researchers found that only 2 percent of NHs reported having no response plan in 2020 versus 56 percent of 2007 respondents. The vast majority of 2020 respondents (94 percent) reported having a staff person(s) responsible for preparedness versus 80 percent in 2007. Infection control coordinators (60 percent), administrators (39 percent), directors of nursing (28 percent), and emergency preparedness (7 percent) staff were cited most often as those responsible. In 2020, a greater portion of NHs were willing to accept hospital-overflow nonpandemic patients (82 versus 53 percent) or discharge patients to open up beds (18 versus 9 percent). Further, NHs are now more likely to have established communication lines with nearby hospitals (62 versus 49 percent) and public health officials (86 versus 56 percent). The greatest preparedness concerns included lack of supplies (42 percent) and inadequate staffing (32 percent).

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“NHs will need to refine their preparedness strategies as the COVID-19 pandemic evolves and is anticipated to have major consequences,” the authors write.

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