Connecticut asks nursing homes to accept positive COVID-19 hospital transfers

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Connecticut is asking nursing homes to accept patients who are positive for COVID-19 and discharged from an acute care hospital, according to new guidance from the state department of public health. 

The guidance, which was updated Jan. 6, states that patients should be transferred from an acute care hospital to a post-acute care setting "whenever clinically indicated, regardless of COVID-19 status." Post-acute care includes long-term care hospitals, inpatient rehabilitation facilities, skilled nursing facilities and home health agencies.

State officials released the guidance as the omicron variant continues to spread across the U.S. As of Jan. 9, COVID-19 hospitalizations nationwide were at 96 percent of last winter's peak, according to HHS data tracked by The New York Times. Cases were at 270 percent of last winter's peak.

In Connecticut, new daily COVID-19 hospitalizations have risen 104 percent over the last two weeks, according to the HHS data. 

As part of the state's guidance, state officials are waiving a requirement that patients transferred from a hospital to a post-acute care setting must have a negative COVID-19 test performed in the hospital within 48 hours of their transfer, The Connecticut Mirror reported. 

"Vaccination status of an individual should not influence decisions about hospital discharge or PAC admission," the guidance states.

Still, Matthew Barrett, the president and CEO of the Connecticut Association of Health Care Facilities, told the Mirror that nursing homes should still have flexibility to determine whether to accept patients who are positive for COVID-19 from hospitals under the state guidance.

"The guidance that came out today, we don't interpret it initially as in any way undermining a nursing home's very appropriate authority and ability to refuse a hospital admission, if the nursing home believes it is unable to meet the care needs of the resident due to staffing issues — and staffing issues are present all across the state and especially in Connecticut nursing homes," Mr. Barrett told the Mirror. "So, we don't view the memo that came out … or the guidance document from the department of public health in any way, shape or form undermining that clear authority."

The guidance instructs hospitals to report to state officials any nursing home unable to accept new admissions because of COVID-19 infection status. 

To read the full guidance, click here

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