Harrisburg, PA - Secretary of Health (DOH) Dr. Rachel Levine and Secretary of Human Services (DHS) Teresa Miller today outlined the multiple steps their agencies are taking to contain a COVID-19 outbreak at Milton Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Milton, Northumberland County.
“First and foremost, our shared goal is to protect the residents and staff at the facility – and all long-term care facilities in the commonwealth – as we battle COVID-19,” Dr. Levine said. “Today, the Department of Health took another step to help Milton by placing a temporary manager at the facility to ensure proper infection control procedures are being followed and that the operators of the facility are doing their job to protect residents and staff. Keeping this virus out of nursing homes is on all of us, and we must all do our part – starting with wearing a mask when we are around other people.”
“We will continue to work closely with our Regional Response Health Collaborative network to assist with stabilizing and managing this outbreak and providing support to facility staff, the National Guard, and temporary management as we work to protect residents in care,” said Sec. Miller.
To assist the operators of Milton Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, the Wolf Administration also has:
- Worked with the State Long-Term Care Ombudsman to prioritize protection of residents’ rights and quality of care for all residents through mitigation and response efforts;
- Provided early consultation to the facility, including a review of infection control guidance, cohorting, personal protective equipment (PPE) on August 3;
- Ensured Milton was in contact with the Regional Response Health Collaboration Program (RRHCP). Geisinger Health System is the RRHC and first contact was on August 4. Geisinger was first on-site on August 4 and has worked with Milton Nursing and Rehabilitation staff and leadership on proper use and fitting of PPE, cohorting of COVID-positive and exposed residents, care management of patients who are not positive or exposed to COVID, and testing, among others. Geisinger has been on site regularly since the first contact and continues to provide support with nurse educators and infection prevention specialists;
- Provided staffing assistance through DOH’s contractor, General Healthcare Resources (GHR) since August 8;
- Performed a site visit with DOH’s Healthcare Acquired Infection (HAI) team, DHS and Geisinger on August 11 and August 18;
- Remained in daily contact with the facility since the outbreak was identified; and
- Provided nearly 3,600 masks, 4,000 gloves, 700 gowns, 100 face shields and 50 pieces of eyewear since the beginning of the pandemic.
In addition, the Pennsylvania National Guard, at the direction of PEMA, sent a team to Milton Nursing and Rehabilitation Center today, to conduct an assessment, and provide training and testing on PPE. A second team will be sent tomorrow to provide 24-hour staffing support for the next five days. Their support would include housekeeping and food services to support the Department of Health’s mission.
The temporary manager, Senior Health Care Solutions of Scranton, was placed as a result of a regulatory action taken by the Department of Health due to deficiencies found at the facility, and will remain in place until the department determines it is no longer necessary. The temporary manager reports to the department. The department will pay the fees and costs for the temporary management from the state’s civil monetary penalty fund; however, Milton still remains responsible for all expenses in maintaining the operation of the facility including: payroll; food costs; medications and supplies; payment for contracted services; facility lease, operation and maintenance costs; liability insurance and other operational costs.
Based on test results received by the department, the first linked cases were identified on August 3. Milton completed its mandated universal testing on July 9, with no positive cases. Since the first cases were identified on August 3, there have been at least 109 cases among residents and employees and 13 deaths.
The Wolf Administration has provided long-term care facilities with the resources and expertise in order to prevent or control existing outbreaks. This includes:
- Providing direct support through RRHCPs; DOH’s HAI team; DOH infection control contractor ECRI; the Patient Safety Authority; General Health Resources; and the Pennsylvania National Guard;
- Providing PPE regularly to facility operators, as well as education and training on how to safely put it on and take it off;
- Close coordination between the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA) and DOH as they evaluate various types of support that may be needed at facilities across the commonwealth. Once specific needs are identified, PEMA works with agencies, such as the Pennsylvania National Guard, to provide the support needed as quickly as possible.
- Regularly inspecting facilities and responding to every complaint filed with DOH;
- Creating rapid response strike teams using the state’s staffing contract with nurses to staff the facilities in need;
- Providing virtual mental health services to facilities through DHS’s medical reserve corps;
- CDC teams provided on-site assistance for 13 long-term care facilities using their infection prevention and control expertise and training of U.S. Health and Human Services (HHS) teams
- Sharing information through bulletin boards, nursing home associations, and our normal channels of communication such as Health Alert Network messages; and
- Prioritizing nursing homes and other long-term care facilities to receive PPE, and for testing among symptomatic individuals.
The Wolf Administration has taken a three-pillar approach to protecting the vulnerable residents living in nursing homes and other long-term living settings:
- Ensuring resident safety through testing, education and resources;
- Preventing and mitigating outbreaks; and
- Working in partnership with state agencies, local health departments and long-term care facility operators.
The Wolf Administration stresses the role Pennsylvanians play in helping to reduce the spread of COVID-19:
- Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
- Cover any coughs or sneezes with your elbow, not your hands.
- Clean surfaces frequently.
- Stay home to avoid spreading COVID-19, especially if you are unwell.
- If you must go out for a life-sustaining reason, please wear a mask.
Updated Coronavirus Links: Press Releases, State Lab Photos, Graphics
All Pennsylvania residents are encouraged to sign up for AlertPA, a text notification system for health, weather, and other important alerts like COVID-19 updates from commonwealth agencies. Residents can sign up online at www.ready.pa.gov/BeInformed/Signup-For-Alerts.
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