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Nursing homes must adhere to federal limits

As the number of COVID-19 cases increase in long-term care facilities across the country and Bucks County, the federal government recently issued new rules requiring nursing homes to tell residents and their families quickly about cases in their facilities.

The Centers for Medicare and Medical Services guidelines call for nursing homes and personal care homes to inform residents and their representatives of a single confirmed case within 12 hours of having the information.

Additionally, administrators must disclose when three or more residents or staff experience the onset of new respiratory systems common to COVID-19, within 72 hours.

As of April 26, Bucks County had 536 resident cases of the virus in 45 of its licensed nursing homes and personal care homes, according to the state’s health department. Ninety--six employees have contracted COVID-19. A total of 100 deaths were reported among residents and staff. The number of deaths did not delineate between employees and residents.

More than two-thirds of the county’s COVID-19 deaths are from long-term care facilities, according to county officials. As of April 28, Neshaminy Manor, the county’s 360-bed nursing home in Warrington Township, reported 15 deaths from the virus; 8 positive cases among residents and 41 positive cases among nursing home staff. Four residents and 19 staff have recovered, to date, officials said.

Neshaminy Manor closed to all visitors on March 10. Some visitors may be “approved for end-of-life” visits, according to the home’s website.
“We’ve had a shift in the types of cases, from community spread to nursing homes,” said Dr. David Damsker, Bucks County’s health department director, during a news conference last week. “We’re trying to mitigate and minimize the morbidity,” he said, adding, “each of those deaths have mourning and grief.”

“Eventually, it would be nice to test every resident and staff, but we’re not there now,” said Damsker.

Based on Bucks County’s population of 628,270, the likelihood of meeting the state’s criteria for relaxing some restrictions is some time off, according to officials.

The infection rate of no more than 50 cases, per 100,00 residents over a cumulative 14-day period would mean there could be no more than 314 positive cases, an average of 22 per day, over a 14-day period, state news releases report.

“It does not bode well for Bucks County being able to reopen its economy any time soon,” a news release stated.

The first COVID-19 case in a Bucks County long-term care facility was reported during the last week of March, said Damsker.

To learn more about the federal government’s new regulations, visit: .