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For nursing homes, a playbook for the next COVID-19 wave

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In early summer, nursing home residents accounted for one in every four COVID-related death in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as of mid-October, more than 60,000 nursing home residents in the United States have died from COVID-19.

The first wave of COVID-19 “exposed substantial gaps in our nation’s pandemic preparedness in nursing facilities,” according to a new report from the COVID-19 Policy Alliance.

The report is a COVID-19 playbook for long-term care facilities to prepare for future infections. It was developed with the Massachusetts Senior Care Association.

The playbook is divided into four challenges, with an objective and solutions for each:

  1. Testing. Expand testing for early detection and more effective management of nursing facility staff and resident cases.
  2. Infection control. Use infection control best practices to reduce the spread of infection.
  3. Personal Protective Equipment. Expand the supply of personal protective equipment to mitigate infection of nursing facility staff and residents.
  4. Workforce. Expand nursing facility workforce to manage both ongoing operations and surge.

“With the imminent next surge of the pandemic we believe that the playbook could provide tactical actions that would benefit industry associations, governments, and nursing homes in protecting staff and residents going forward,” said MIT Sloan professor Kate Kellogg, one of the alliance leaders.

The other alliance leaders include MIT Sloan professors Simon Johnson, Retsef Levi, and Vivek Farias. The lead authors of the playbook were Noa Ghersin, MBA ’20, SM ’20, and MSCA President Tara Gregorio.

The alliance started as an effort by several MIT Sloan faculty members to allocate scarce COVID-19 resources through analytics, but quickly grew into a supply chain for Massachusetts long-term care facilities that needed personal protective equipment, frontline personnel, and ways to test for and control infections.