Safe Start for Long-Term Care
Long-Term Care (LTC) Facilities
Long-term care facilities serve vulnerable populations that are at higher risk of contracting COVID-19. Residents’ age and health status put them at greater risk for severe COVID-19 complications and death. COVID-19 can quickly spread in congregate care settings.
Benton-Franklin Health District has been working with these facilities throughout Benton and Franklin Counties to ensure strong infection control guidance, availability of testing, and other measures to identify cases and minimize the spread of disease and protect these vulnerable populations. The health district has partnered with pharmacies to vaccinate staff and residents in long-term care facilities.
Please see the following guidance:
- Indoor visitation allowed when either resident or visitor is fully vaccinated, under most circumstances
- Indoor visitation for unvaccinated residents should be limited solely to compassionate care situations if the COVID-19 county positivity rate is >10% and <70% of residents in the facility are fully vaccinated (2 weeks post last in vaccine series)
- Indoor visitation should be limited solely to compassionate care situations, for:
- Vaccinated and unvaccinated residents with SARS-CoV-2 infection until they have met criteria to discontinue Transmission-Based Precautions.
- Vacinnated and unvaccinated residents in quarantine until they have met criteria for release from quarantine.
- Outdoor visitation still preferred, due to decreased risk of virus transmission. (See: Outdoor Visit Guidance)
- Compassionate care visits allowed at any time, regardless of resident’s vaccination status. (For more information see compassionate care visitation)
- Visitors and residents must continue to wear face coverings and practice hand hygiene.
- Facilities in outbreak status should follow guidance from state and local health authorities and CMSexternal icon on when visitation should be paused.
- Visitors should be counseled about their potential to be exposed to SARS-CoV-2 in the facility if they are permitted to visit.
As of 2021, Benton and Franklin County facilities LTC staff and residents have begun receiving COVID-19 vaccinations
For more information about this process:
- DSHS Family help web page (includes visitation table, compassionate care criteria, risk assessment & more)
- Information for providers and long-term care professionals
- Long-Term Care Facility Visitor Log and Visitor Announcement Poster
- L&I and DOH Respirator and PPE Guidance for Long-Term Care Facilities
- L&I and DOH Respirator and PPE Guidance for In-Home Care Agencies
How do I find out the phase of a particular long-term care facility?
Contact your facility of interest to inquire about their status.
How will I be informed of phase changes at a particular long-term care facility?
Individual LTC facilities have different ways of sending notifications to residents and family members. If you want to be informed of when a LTC facility has moved to a next phase please contact them directly or request that your facility of interest include you on updates related to phase status. Facilities are not allowed to move into a higher phase than the county they reside in.
What precautions are in place to prevent outsiders from introducing infection?
Everyone is screened upon entering or re-entering the facility, including staff and other essential healthcare personal such as therapists, home health and hospice staff. Screening may include temperature checks and questionnaires regarding exposure and symptoms. All facility entrants will be required to follow facility safety policy to encompass social distancing, face covering, and additional protective equipment or measures as required. Facilities will post an announcement notifying all visitors of these safety measures.
Do residents that leave facilities for medical appointments need to be quarantined?
Facilities will complete an exposure risk assessment for each resident who leaves the facility for community visits. The risk assessment will inform how the facility manages residents upon their return. Residents that leave the facility, as well as those accompanying them (family members, etc.), should be educated on infection prevention.
“Low-risk” resident activity will prompt a safety briefing and screening. “Medium-risk” resident activity prompts a 14-day refrain from group activity. “High-risk” resident activity should be quarantined for 14 days. The facility will work with the Local Health Jurisdiction (LHJ) in determining the best approach after completing the exposure rick assessment.
Are residents required to wear masks all day?
In general, residents are bound by the same statewide masking mandates as the rest of the state. Secretary of Health Order 20-03.1 requires that every person in Washington State must wear a face covering that covers their nose and mouth when they are outside of their dwelling unit (with some exceptions).
Are LTC facilities required to notify residents and families if a positive COVID-19 case is identified in the facility?
Yes, DSHS requires facilities to notify all staff, residents, and families when a positive COVID-19 case is identified in the facility.
If I am concerned that a facility or agency policy is unsafe, what can I do?
If you have any concerns, please contact the LTC surveillance team at BFHD. You can contact us by email at email@example.com or call us at 509-460-4200.
If you feel that a LTC facility is in violation of state law, please file a complaint with Residential Care Services. Complaints to the Residential Care Services (RCS) Complaint Resolution Unit (CRU) will inform DSHS of potential violations of Safe Start for Long Term Care criteria. CRU staff will investigate complaints.
The RCS Complaint Resolution Unit may be reached at 1-800-562-6078, or a complaint may be lodged online.
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