Indiana State Health Commissioner Kristina Box yesterday authorized an order allowing long-term care facilities to transfer, discharge, transport or relocate residents to reduce the risks of COVID-19 in what has become an increasingly vulnerable population.
The order aims to allow facilities to redistribute facility residents who have tested negative for COVID-19, the disease stemming from the new coronavirus, moving them to a facility that has not been afflicted by the disease.
State officials argue the order better serves residents who have tested positive for the disease by allowing facilities to establish COVID-dedicated units, with consultation from the Indiana State Dept. of Health.
But families must be notified before any transfer occurs, Box said.
Box said such units allow facilities to better care for these residents and protect healthcare workers while helping to conserve personal protective equipment, such as masks and gowns.
Box today said at least 152 long-term care facilities in Indiana have reported at least one positive COVID-19 case. To date, at least 681 residents have tested positive in the facilities, roughly one percent of the population that lives in such facilities. The 681 cases account for nearly seven percent of positive COVID-19 cases in the state; however, 119 deaths have occurred in the facilities – nearly 27 percent of the state’s COVID-19 deaths.
“(It’s) heartbreaking, but it’s, unfortunately, an expected disparity knowing that these individuals in these facilities are our highest-risk population, based on their age and chronic health conditions,” Box said during a press conference.
The state has also reported 512 staff members at such facilities have tested positive for the disease. One staff member, to date, has died from the disease, Box said.
The order, which includes transfers within a facility, between facilities and those occurring across city or county boundaries, will remain in effect for the duration of the public health emergency declared by Gov. Eric Holcomb. It supersedes any orders issued at the local and county level.