Governor Strengthening Protection in Residential and Nursing Healthcare Facilities

State of Arizona Office of the Governor

Governor Doug Ducey issued an Executive Order enhancing and reinforcing health protection in Arizona residential care institutions, nursing care institutions and related health care facilities. The order requires all staff to use appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE), implementing symptom checks for those entering the facility, offering electronic communication if visitation is restricted and more. The measures outlined in the order align with new recommendations issued by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

“Arizona will continue to take proactive measures to protect our seniors and vulnerable populations,” said Governor Ducey. “This order helps protect seniors and those living in health care facilities, as well as the staff and health care professionals caring for patients. My thanks to these individuals working to protect Arizona’s most vulnerable as we work to slow the spread of COVID-19.”

The Executive Order will be in effect throughout the duration of the Arizona Declaration of Public Health Emergency issued by the Governor on March 11. The order requires that health care institutions comply with all infection control guidance from the CMS and CDC, including:

  • Implementing symptom checks for every individual regardless of reason for entering a long-term care facility, including temperature checks. This does not apply to Emergency Medical Service (EMS) workers responding to an urgent or emergent need;
  • Ensuring all staff uses appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) when interacting with residents, to the extent that PPE is available and per CDC guidance on conservation of PPE;
  • And ensuring adherence to appropriate hand hygiene protocols as per CDC guidelines.

Additionally, facilities should separate COVID-19 positive residents and COVID-19 unknown residents from COVID-19 negative residents to avoid transmission of the virus. Under this order, the facilities:

  • Should ensure that separate, consistent staffing teams are utilized for each of these different cohorts;
  • Must be capable of maintaining strict infection control practices and testing protocols for COVID-19 positives units and facilities;
  • And must develop policies and procedures to facilitate the admission and readmission of residents who are ready for safe discharge from an acute care hospital without the requirement of a negative COVID-19 test result.

Additionally, these health care institutions must report to the Arizona Department of Health Services every week the number of COVID-19 positive residents, the number of transfers to and from an acute hospital, number and type of PPE, and the estimated use of each type of PPE per week. They must also offer an electronic visual form of communication if visitation is restricted.

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