Governor Gavin Newsom has outlined steps California is taking to protect the residents and employees of the more than 1,224 skilled nursing facilities and 7,461 residential care facilities across the state. Building on the state’s early action to protect these facilities, California has trained and is deploying 600 nurses to support compliance with COVID-19 guidance, and state staff is calling nursing homes across the state daily to provide support.
“Protecting California’s most vulnerable residents and the employees is a top priority – not only to protect public health but because it’s the right thing to do,” said Governor Newsom. “Older Californians and those who are medically fragile are at higher risk of becoming seriously ill due to COVID-19, which is why we took early action to restrict visitors to these facilities. Now we are providing even more support for these facilities, their residents, and staff who serve them.”
Recognizing the threat to these medically fragile individuals, the state last month restricted visitors to these facilities except for end-of-life and other rare circumstances. Before COVID-19 had spread widely in the community in California, the Department of Public Health and the Department of Social Services issued guidance and offered trainings on infection control. And the Departments jointly deployed strike teams of infection control specialists to counties, nursing homes and residential care facilities for the elderly to provide one-on-one technical support and expertise.
The Governor also announced that the USNS Mercy will be taking non-COVID-19 patients to help decompress skilled nursing facilities in the Los Angeles area.
To further protect vulnerable Californians, California is:
- Retraining 600 nurses to support facility compliance with COVID-19 guidance and to assist facilities with positive cases;
- Working to decompress facilities to help slow the potential spread of COVID-19 in these facilities and create facilities specifically for positive patients;
- Reaching out proactively to each skilled nursing facility on a daily basis to assess their specific needs and identify and address any challenges early on;
- Prioritizing testing for patients discharged from a hospital to a skilled nursing facility to ensure patients who test positive are transferred to a facility that can safely provide care to the residents and also protect COVID-19 negative residents. California will also prioritize the testing of symptomatic residents and potentially exposed residents to ensure they are immediately isolated;
- Prioritizing personal protective equipment to facilities with COVID-19 positive staff or residents and facilities that are at increased risk to COVID-19;
- Providing stipends to certified nurse assistants, licensed vocational nurses and other critical staff at nursing homes to make sure their needs are met. A previously announced Facebook donation of up to $25 million available to provide $500 stipends to up to 50,000 nursing home workers;
- Offering no-cost or low-cost hotel rooms for workers who have had possible exposure to COVID-19 or test positive for COVID-19 and do not need to be hospitalized; and
- Ensuring that families of nursing home residents are informed and educated on COVID-19 safety protections for their loved ones.
Learn more about the state’s ongoing COVID-19 response efforts here. Visit covid19.ca.gov for critical steps Californians can take to stay healthy, and resources available to those impacted by the outbreak.