ND Long Term Care president: Every facility is on board with testing | Prairie Public Broadcasting

ND Long Term Care president: Every facility is on board with testing

May 19, 2020

Credit ND Long Term Care Association

The president of the North Dakota Long Term Care Association said all of the state’s long term care facilities are allowing COVID-19 testing.

Earlier, Gov. Doug Burgum had said at one of his COVID-19 briefings he was aware that three of those facilities were not allowing testing.

But Shelly Peterson said she thinks the issue with that was communication. She said some of the testing, for example, had been scheduled for Mother’s Day.

"We were trying to make Mother's Day really, really special in facilities, because family wasn't able to be there," Peterson said. "And to even call in our staff on Mother's Day, when they haven't had very many breaks, and haven't been able to take vacation and working overtime -- they need a break."

Peterson said in the dementia population, the nasal swabs would have been very difficult, so they were waiting for other testing protocols. But she said every one of the 218 facilities is on-board with testing.

"It's one of the key factors in trying to returning to some normalcy out there, so we can show we don't have the infection present in our facilities," Peterson said.

Task Force for visitation protocol

The North Dakota Long Term Care Association is forming a task force to work on protocols on reuniting families with residents of the long term care facilities.

Visits have been restricted because of COVID-19.

"Right now, we can't do that," Peterson said. "But there will be a time when we can reunite families with residents. We're looking forward to that."

Peterson said a protocol should be in place, so there is a safe way to do that.

Peterson said residents are missing their families, and staff are filling in where they can. And she says the families are improvising.

"Some were doing visits outside, when it's nice," Peterson said. "They wore masks and protective gear, and kept 6-foot social distance. Oh my goodness, is that tough."

Peterson said Chris Larson, a resident of a Mayville nursing home, will be chairing the task force. She said they will also be working with the state Health Department on when and how visitation will be allowed.