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Health Officials Say Plans Are In Works To Help Nursing Homes Fend Off COVID Infections

CDC

Another nursing home patient has died in New Hampshire due to COVID-19, the state health department confirmed Friday, as officials say they are working to provide more support for long-term care facilities that are struggling to keep infections from the novel coronavirus at bay.

The most recent death was a person lived at Hanover Hill nursing home in Manchester, where four other residents have already died of coronavirus infection, and at least 50 other residents and staff have tested positive for the virus. Long-term care facilities now account for half the state’s 22 coronavirus fatalities.

Gov. Chris Sununu said he will be taking steps next week to provide financial help to nursing homes and people who work at them.

“We want to make sure some type of help is coming in very short order.” Sununu said. “The public facilities in particular, a lot of those workers are having to make tough decisions about coming in, there’s concern.”

The state has yet to confirm any cases of COVID-19 at public nursing homes.

While long-term care facilities say they continue to scramble for personal protective equipment, Health and Human Services Commissioner Lori Shibinette said no long-term care facility is going without PPE. She said she’d personally reached out to administrators at Hanover Hill to ensure they were supplied.

“Everybody gets worried when you get down to your last two days,” Shibinette said. “But every time they get to that point, we send them what we have in reserves.”

State health officials have said COVID-19 is present in more than 13 long-term care facilities, and Shibinette says her office has also identified locations – either a facility with open units, or a closed facility that could be reopened – that could be suitable if the state needs to set up what she called a “COVID only” long-term care facility.

“Right now, what we are encouraging facilities to do is that if you have a group of COVID-positive patients, or patients that are displaying symptoms of COVID, is that you cohort them together,” said Shibinette.

Josh has worked at NHPR since 2000.
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