Scientists to help nursing homes implement best practices to mitigate COVID-19 impact

Researchers in Georgia State University's School of Public Health and Emory University's School of Medicine have received a $600,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality to help nursing homes implement practices to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 and stop the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

The grant allows the public health team from the School of Public Health's Center for Leadership in Disability (CLD) to collaborate with researchers from Emory University's School of Medicine and Geriatric Workforce Enhancement Program to form Georgia's National Nursing Home COVID-19 Action Network (NNHCAN). Georgia State will be the hub for the Extension Community Healthcare Outcomes (ECHO) model for the NNHCAN project by recruiting nursing homes to take part in program and managing the ECHO training and data platform.

The ECHO model uses innovative telementoring training to engage nursing home staff in a virtual community of learners. The staff will receive face-to-face mentorship and knowledge from subject matter and quality improvement experts and peers on best practices, including how to keep the virus from entering facilities, providing care to residents with asymptomatic cases and reducing social isolation for community members.

The ECHO model promotes both learning from experts and learning through a community of practice. Nursing home staff across Georgia have the opportunity to share and learn best practices from each other, in addition to learning from our Emory University content experts."

Dr. Emily Graybill, Clinical Associate Professor, School of Public Health, Associate Director of the CLD and ECHO

More than a quarter of the recent COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. have been reported in long-term care communities. Advanced age, underlying frailty and communal living conditions make nursing home residents especially vulnerable, and their reliance on nursing home staff members put workers at high risk. The CDC and state of Georgia have prioritized nursing home residents and staff members to be the first to get the newly approved COVID-19 vaccines.

Since November, the Georgia NNHCAN network has trained more than 500 staff in 187 nursing homes, serving more than 10,000 residents in long-term care communities on COVID-19 preparedness, safety and infection control.

"Through the targeted training of nursing home personnel who can then select, implement and evaluate best practices to respond to this public health issue we hope to see significant reductions in the spread of SARS-COV-2," said Dr. Ted Johnson, professor and director of Georgia's Geriatric Workforce Enhancement Program at Emory University and principal investigator on the project.

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