Eliminating staff links between nursing homes could reduce COVID-19 cases in the facilities by 44%, report finds

Public health experts have identified staff members working at multiple facilities as contributors to the spread of COVID-19, according to The New York Times. 

The typical nursing home has staff connections with 15 other facilities, according to a recent report by the National Bureau of Economic Research. The report concluded that eliminating staff linkages between nursing homes could reduce COVID-19 infections in nursing homes by 44 percent. 

"There's a tremendous number of staffing agencies that spring up to spread workers across nursing homes," said Keith Chen, PhD, professor of behavioral economics at the University of California Los Angeles and a lead author of the report. "But that's exactly what you don't want in the middle of a respiratory pandemic."

Employees working at more than one facility are thought to have contributed to the nation's first known COVID-19 outbreak in a Kirkland, Wash., nursing home, according to the CDC. The home's parent company, Life Care Centers of America, stopped using contract workers after the pandemic began, said spokesperson Davis Lundy.

Nursing home advocates say most facilities have little control over what other jobs staff have and that it is hard to increase wages when revenue is fixed by the state or Medicare.

"We don't value this work force," said David Grabowski, PhD, a professor of healthcare policy at Boston-based Harvard Medical School. "If we paid them a full-time position or a living wage, they wouldn't have to do all this moonlighting across facilities."

More articles on post-acute care:
Special oversight of nation's 88 worst nursing homes delayed amid pandemic
3 Maryland nursing homes owe six-figure fines after failing to isolate COVID-19 patients
Fairview Health launches post-acute business with AccentCare

pecial oversight of nation's 88 worst nursing homes delayed amid pandemic

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