A Special Subacute Care Partnership: Fighting Coronavirus in Nursing Home Patients
How Elderwood, General Physician, PC, and Kaleida Health are making a difference with Dr. Paul Shields at the Helm!

by Annette Pinder

The American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL), represent 14,000 nursing and long-term care facilities in the U.S. providing care to approximately five million reported that Health and Human Services (HH) has provided $4.9 billion in funding to help skilled nursing facilities respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mark Parkinson, president, and CEO of AHCA/NCAL said, “Long term care providers are privileged to care for our country’s Greatest Generation. Given the gravity of the situation we are facing with this deadly virus and its impact on our vulnerable residents, long-term care facilities require additional support and funding from state and federal governments to reduce its spread.”

The fact that this funding was recognized as crucial, highlights the problems being faced by all long-term care facilities, including those in Western New York. They are facilities that care for older adults with high levels of chronic illness and impairment, susceptible to severe complications and mortality from COVID-19, who live in close proximity to one another. “To address these challenges, Elderwood of Amherst and Niagara Lutheran Greenfields developed a plan for creating separate units where COVID patients could be isolated and cared for without spreading the virus,” explains Paul Shields, DO, VP of Post-Acute Care Clinical Services for General Physician, PC, Medical Director of both long-term care facilities, and Post-Acute Care Physician Advisor for Kaleida Health hospitals, Erie County Medical Center, and the VNA of WNY.

To accomplish this, separate entryways to the COVID units were created at both facilities that were inaccessible from the rest of the facility, while the units themselves were only accessible to dedicated COVID staff. “We also eliminated cross-contamination issues with separate meal preparation, disposable plates, and utensils, with meals delivered through a separate process, only accessible to COVID staff. We even created a separate area where staff could change out of their contaminated clothing prior to exiting the building at Amherst,” explains Dr. Shields. He adds, “Finally, we provided staff with appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) and taught them how to use it properly, knowing that infections and outbreaks are almost always due to breakdowns in infection control practices and procedures.”

Dr. Shields is proud of what the team has accomplished at both of these facilities. He says, “So far, we had only one nurse test positive for the virus while caring for nearly 70 patients over six weeks, with only two deaths. We know that when patients are carefully watched, identified, and separated from the rest of the resident population, spread is minimized, patients are safer, and lives are saved. We knew how to do this, and we have done it well. We developed a cooperative plan that we believe will revolutionize subacute care. Until a vaccine and successful treatments are available, we are providing the right care, in the right place, at the right time.”

To those of us who want to remain as healthy as possible while waiting for a vaccine, Dr. Shields’ says, “Get enough vitamin C and D; quit smoking; don’t rush to open; wear a mask; and don’t take dangerous medications being touted as cures.

See more of what Dr. Shields has to say in this video.