Get our newsletters

Toomey and Casey: How we can reduce nursing home deaths


U.S. Sens. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) and Bob Casey (D-Pa.) wrote in an op-ed in the Morning Call today about how to better protect nursing home workers and residents from COVID-19.

“First, states and nursing homes should consider adopting the practice of cohorting, which is underway in a handful of states including Pennsylvania,” the senators wrote. “With cohorting, nursing homes can separate residents with COVID-19 and those presumed to have the virus from those who have not been exposed, utilizing separate wings in an existing facility or leveraging nontraditional settings such as hotels and dormitories.

“A longer-term strategy will be needed to assist nursing homes in infection control. In the meantime, cohorting has the potential to protect nursing home residents who are not stricken with the virus, while allowing government officials to better target the deployment of personal protective equipment, testing and other essential resources to care for those infected with COVID-19.”

In the op-ed, the senators also called for widespread testing and wrote about the need for more personal protective gear.

“While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently revised its COVID-19 testing guidance to give greater priority to people living and working in congregate settings, national, widespread testing is integral to curbing the spread of this deadly virus,” they stated.

“The workers caring for nursing home residents deserve the peace of mind that they will not have to wait up to a week or more before receiving their test results or orders of gowns, masks and gloves while a COVID-19 outbreak strikes their workplace. Adequate testing can inform staffing decisions, and an ample supply of protective gear can ensure the safety of both workers and residents.

“With testing and protective gear needs fulfilled, nursing homes will be better prepared to implement effective cohorting strategies.”