Maria King, Assistant Program Manager at the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH), has verified that home care workers should be considered essential health care providers. She noted that the ‘compassionate care’ example used in the MDH ‘Updated Guidance for MDH-Licensed Providers of Residential Settings’ was meant solely as an example, not an exclusive list. This topic was further addressed during the state’s Long Term Care Preparedness for COVID-19 call held on March 18, 2020 for providers to clarify this issue and answer other questions.
These clarifications have been verified by Care Providers of Minnesota, LeadingAge Minnesota, and the Minnesota Home Care Association.
While long-term care and residential facility providers work to reduce unnecessary risk to their residents, state leaders stress that providers should also take into account the vital role of home care providers to prevent unnecessary hospitalizations, especially during this crisis.
MDH’s guidance is based on the CMS QSO memo 20 14, which does require facilities to restrict visitation and non-essential health personnel. However, there are two major exceptions to the restrictions reinforced by the CDC:
- The facility’s own health care workers.
- Health care workers who come into the facility such as nurses, therapists, hospice workers, EMS, nurse practitioners, home care aides, etc. to provide care to residents.
MDH stresses that these personnel be permitted into the facility as long as they meet the CDC guidelines for risk screening for health care workers.
MDH recommends the following for essential health care personnel:
- Require they perform hand hygiene when entering the facility.
- Actively screen at entryway for fever, respiratory symptoms, and COVID-19 exposure.
- Ensure the workers abide by the CDC’s Interim U.S. Guidelines for Risk Assessment and Public Health Management of Healthcare Personnel with Potential Exposure in a Healthcare Setting to Patients with Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19).
- Restrict their visit to the client’s room or other location designated by the facility.
- Remind them to perform hand hygiene frequently.
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