COVID-19 Update

9.18.20

On Thursday, September 17, CMS released new guidelines on rules for visitation at skilled nursing centers. We are reviewing the new guidelines and creating new processes to meet the requirements. We are excited to take a step closer to resume in person visits for our patients and residents in the most appropriate way possible. There are certain criteria outlined by CMS for outside visitation and inside visitation. Please note that some states may have more stringent guidelines than others. Each center will be sharing their plans and processes for in person visitation if allowed by CMS requirements. We look forward to having you back on campus when in person visitation can resume.

9.4.20

CMS has issued updated requirements for COVID-19 testing in our centers. In addition to the symptomatic testing that has already been occurring, we are now required to test all partners and patients in response to a single new infection of COVID-19.  The testing method is less invasive and results in less patient discomfort. We are to continue to test all patients and partners until no new cases are identified for 14 days. CMS also has released a new requirement for routine testing of partners based on the extent of the virus in the community.

8.14.20

CMS requires us to notify the families of our skilled nursing patients via our website of status changes including when a confirmed infection of COVID-19 is identified, or whenever 3 or more residents or staff with new onset of respiratory symptoms within 72 hours of each other are under investigation. Please check out the updated COVID Status notification dashboard on each community’s webpage and reporting guide below.

Dashboard Reporting Categories

Number of In-House Active COVID Patients refers to the number of patients with active COVID-19 diagnosis being treated in the center’s dedicated unit with appropriate personal protective equipment and dedicated staffing.

Number of Patients Admitted Positive refers to the number of patients confirmed positive for COVID-19 upon admission from exposure outside the center.

Number of Recovered Patients refers to the number of patients who have recovered per CDC guidelines.

Number or Patients under Investigation refers to the number of  patients who have tests pending and meet the definition from CDC for persons under investigation.

Total number of Employees Tested Positive refers to the total number of employees, providers, and contractors providing care who have tested positive.

Number of Employees Recovered refers to the number of employees, providers, and contractors providing care who have recovered per CDC guidelines.

Number of Employees Under Investigation refers to how many employees, providers, and contractors providing care have tests pending and meet the definition from the CDC for persons under investigation.

Total Deaths refers to the total number of deaths diagnosed with COVID-19.

The tracking of the Point Prevalence Testing (mass testing of all patients and employees) will not be reflected in the Number of Patients or Number of Employees Under Investigation columns, as mass testing does not meet the definition from CDC for Persons Under Investigation. Any positives resulting from the mass testing will be reflected in the numbers appropriately.

7.21.20

We would like to recognize our incredible partners (employees) for providing excellent care and compassion to our patients, residents,  and each other during these unprecedented times. Thank you to our families and community members for your kind words and outpouring of support to our patients and our partners. We appreciate you!

CMS requires us to notify the families of our skilled nursing patients via our website of status changes including when a confirmed infection of COVID-19 is identified, or whenever 3 or more residents or staff with new onset of respiratory symptoms within 72 hours of each other are under investigation. Please check out the COVID Status notification dashboard on each communities webpage.

We report all positive confirmations of patients and partners (employees) directly to the local and state departments of health. Active positive patients are supported in identified “transitional areas” in designated centers with dedicated team members equipped with proper personal protective equipment. All infection control protocols per CDC and CMS are followed extensively. We follow CDC guidelines in handling positive COVID-19 partners (employees).

Precautions: We continue to follow infection control guidelines from the CDC and CMS, including proper hand-washing techniques, extensive environmental services, social distancing, and wearing appropriate personal protective equipment. We will follow our standard procedures and notify you if your loved one has a change in condition. We continue to screen partners and actively take temperatures.

6.25.20

In this episode of Day by Day, Rick Sellars discusses assisted living and answers questions about assisted living in general and at NHC. Topics such as the difference between skilled nursing facilities and assisted living, understanding the signs that a loved one may need assisted living, and the precautions NHC assisted living facilities are taking to prevent the spread of COVID-19 are all discussed. Click here to listen.

6.19.20

In the latest podcast episode of Day by Day, Clint Hall answers some of the big questions families and seniors have about moving into a senior care facility. How does someone get admitted? What options for care are available? Those and other questions are answered. Click here to listen.

6.8.20

In appreciation of the good things happening in our centers during this time, we created a video so you could see some of the things we are happy about. We are celebrating recoveries, incredible community support, unity and hope. To see some of the happy moments, please watch our O Happy Day video.

6.5.20

In the latest podcast episode of Day by Day, Brooke Vanderpool discusses the role of nurses in our senior care facilities. One of the things she discusses is how nurses get to use their training to treat the patients’ emotional and social well-being in addition to their medical needs. Click here to listen.

5.20.20

We are out with our second podcast episode of Day by Day, Navigating Senior Care. This week’s episode is with Lesley Shelton, an experienced social worker with more than 25 years experience of working with families in crisis. Lesley has first-hand knowledge of what families experience when their loved one is in a senior care community. Lesley’s passion for working with families was inspired by her own experience with her family. Lesley also gives us some current insight on what is happening in the centers during this time of restricted visitation. Click here to listen.

5.1.20

We hope you will listen to Day By Day, the podcast where we talk about helping seniors live a more comfortable and supported lifestyle day by day. Our first episode is with Dr. Bert Smith, a medical director giving us some insights on what is going on in center care during the COVID-19 crisis. In the future, we will be talking with experts in senior care on a variety of topics including senior activities, diet, exercise and therapy, nursing and more. Click here to listen.

4.24.20

We are committed to providing excellent care throughout this pandemic to patients and residents in our 75 skilled nursing centers and 24 assisted living communities. Although COVID-19 continues to impact communities across the U.S., prevention is still our #1 priority at NHC. Given the national spread of this virus, senior care providers across the country including NHC are providing care to positive COVID-19 patients.
NHC locations with currently active cases in the center have been reported to the local and state departments of health. “Active cases” are COVID-19 positive patients currently being treated at the location. Active positive patients are supported in identified “transitional areas” in the center with dedicated team members equipped with proper personal protective equipment. These partners (employees) only work in this area during the shift. All infection control protocols per CDC and CMS are followed extensively.

A Message from our CEO
4.17.20

When 2020 began, very few individuals could have foreseen the unprecedented impact that the novel coronavirus would have on daily American life. It has impacted everything, including our work at NHC. Through this letter, I want to update each group of our key stakeholders about how we are addressing the COVID-19 pandemic.

Patients, Residents, and their Families 

The care, protection, and safety of each patient in our skilled nursing facilities and homecare operations, as well as each resident in our assisted living communities is always the top priority at NHC. From the earliest stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, NHC immediately implemented all guidance from CMS, the CDC, and state and local health departments to prevent the spread of the disease to our centers. Thankfully, those actions have proven to be successful, with the vast majority of our skilled nursing centers and assisted living communities have remained free of any confirmed COVID-19 cases.

However, the highly contagious nature of this virus made total containment a virtual impossibility. When a patient or partner at an NHC facility exhibits symptoms or is tested positive for COVID-19, we have, again, followed all guidance from CMS, the CDC, and state and local health departments. Patients exhibiting symptoms or tested positive are treated in isolation to prevent any further spread, and they are closely monitored for any worsening of symptoms for immediate transfer to an area hospital. In addition, if a patient, or partner, in a skilled nursing center or assisted living community tests positive for COVID-19, notification that a case of the coronavirus in the facility has been confirmed is given to partners, patients (or residents) and their families associated with that center.

One of the guidelines from CMS and the CDC has been the restriction of visitors to our centers and communities to help prevent the introduction of the virus through asymptomatic individuals. We are keenly aware that social interaction with family and friends is vital to a senior adult’s emotional and physical well-being. Consequently, our amazing NHC partners, in each operation, have worked diligently to assist with digital communication (i.e. – cell phone, Facetime, Facebook, Zoom, etc.) between our patients and residents and their families. In addition, our partners have come up with incredibly creative ways for our seniors to be engaged in a host of activities – from hallway remote control car racing, to strolling musicians outside of windows, to parking lot parades – to keep patients happy and engaged. Our partners are “going the extra mile” to make this sequester time pass as quickly and enjoyably as possible.

Partners 

What makes NHC the nation’s premier senior care provider is the incredible group of partners who work on our frontlines. These partners deserve our praise in the best of times; they are absolute heroes through this pandemic!

NHC is taking every possible action to support and protect our partners. We have been exploring and utilizing every legitimate source of scarce PPE and distributing it where it’s needed most. We have supported our frontline partners with bonuses, free meals on their shifts, a one-month health insurance premium holiday, and extended sick days for partners who contract the coronavirus.

Our seasoned regional teams have provided hands-on support, and, when needed, partners have volunteered to work at other centers where help was required.

Shareholders 

One of the clear effects of this pandemic has been the volatility in the stock market, particularly among health care stocks. NHC has not been immune from this volatility, though to date, we have fared better than most in our sector.

In the skilled nursing arena, the coronavirus certainly has added expense to operations. Increased costs for screening, Personal Protective Equipment, nursing, dietary, and house cleaning are just a few of the factors driving escalated expenses. The virus has also decreased revenue, as hospitals and surgery centers have restricted all elective surgeries, which are a primary source of post-acute admissions.

Much needed financial assistance has begun to arrive from federal stimulus funds, and more funding is anticipated. Whenever the pandemic wanes, projections are that a pent-up demand for postponed surgeries will cause skilled nursing occupancies to rebound. In the meantime, NHC’s strong balance sheet – with low debt and reasonable lease obligations -should help our company withstand the financial challenges associated with the virus.

While we’ve never encountered something as widespread and threatening as the coronavirus, NHC has successfully weathered many storms in the past. As the nation’s longest tenured senior care company – with a track record of almost half a century – we are confident that we will successfully weather this storm as well.

Sincerely,

Steve Flatt
CEO, National HealthCare Corporation

4.7.20

As a leader in senior care, NHC continues to work with the CDC and CMS throughout this COVID-19 pandemic.  The majority of our healthcare centers and assisted living communities have no reported cases of COVID-19.  Given the national spread of coronavirus, we are working with local health departments and healthcare providers to prepare for the influx of COVID-19 in the local communities we serve.  We continue to follow the guidance of each local health department on criteria for COVID-19 testing.

Our NHC partners (employees) have responded quickly and comprehensively with incredible teamwork to ensure the health of our patients and partners. To prepare for this influx of COVID-19 patients in our communities, the CDC and CMS have created specific protocols for our healthcare centers to continue to serve patients needing skilled care during this pandemic.

To support these guidelines, we have identified “transitional areas” in some of our healthcare centers. These areas can be utilized to support COVID-positive patients and new admissions. These dedicated areas in a healthcare center support these patients with dedicated team members that only work in the designated area during the shift and who are equipped with proper personal protective equipment. All infection control protocols are followed extensively.

For those patients outside of these “transitional areas,” we continue to follow infection control guidelines from the CDC and CMS, including proper hand-washing techniques, extensive environmental services, social distancing, and wearing masks, gowns and gloves when caring for any symptomatic patients. Our healthcare centers and assisted living communities will continue following restricted visitation per CMS. Our interdisciplinary team continues to maintain a regular routine for our patients with activities or needed therapy while practicing social distancing.

Our in-house infection preventionists continue to monitor and guide partners practicing universal precautions including:

  • Frequent hand washing
  • Not coming to work if they show any symptoms of illness
  • Social distancing

When a positive notification occurs for a patient or partner, the healthcare center, or assisted living community, will promptly:

  • First – Notify the family of the patient
  • Second – Alert center partners that there has been a confirmed case of COVID-19
  • Third – All patients in the center and/or their families are informed that a patient has tested positively in the center
  • Fourth – A notice is placed on the center webpage

And as required, we notify and/or coordinate with local and state health departments.

4.2.20

As we continue to go through these unprecedented and perilous times, we want to recognize a group of heroes that are doing what they always do, loving and caring for each patient.

The administrators, medical directors, nurses, CNA’s, therapists, social workers, activity directors, dietary staff, housekeepers, and laundry personnel are all “heroes without capes” for what they are doing daily for our patients.

Frequently Asked Questions

We understand you have questions during these uncertain times, so click here for some frequently asked questions and answers to help keep you informed.