CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - North Carolina will test every resident and staff member for COVID-19 at all nursing homes in the state.
The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) announced a partnership with Omnicare, a CVS Health company, to make facility-wide testing available to residents and staff in all North Carolina skilled nursing facilities.
There are more than 400 nursing homes in the state with approximately 36,000 residents and more than 30,000 staff. Testing will begin in July and continue through August.
“We are using every tool we have to respond to COVID-19,” said NCDHHS Secretary Mandy Cohen, M.D. “Building on North Carolina’s early and aggressive actions to protect residents who live in long-term care settings, DHHS will pay for proactive testing of staff and residents in all nursing homes to slow the spread of COVID-19.”
NCDHHS already recommends that nursing homes with one or more cases test all staff and residents. This initiative further makes testing available to all nursing homes to conduct a baseline test of all residents and staff.
“While testing is a key component of our COVID-response strategy, it is important to remember that the actions we take as a result of that testing are most important,” said NCDHHS Section Chief of Chronic Disease and Injury, Susan Kansagra, M.D., MBA. “Testing will enable our skilled nursing facilities to identify positive cases earlier and better determine additional infection prevention and control measures necessary to contain spread.”
South Carolina made a similar announcement back in May.
“At CVS Health, our testing efforts in nursing homes are just one example of the support we provide to states like North Carolina to help respond to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Jim Love, President of Omnicare. “With our expert understanding of the long-term care industry, we are deploying solutions to help these critically important health care facilities address their most significant challenges arising from the pandemic.”
Officials say CVS Health will bill insurance as possible, and NCDHHS will cover any additional costs for testing.
Facilities should continue to follow recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for repeat testing and work with community and private vendors to support ongoing testing needs.
“We continue to work closely with the state to protect the residents and staff in our skilled nursing facilities. This testing initiative is another example of how the state is providing our facilities with valuable tools and resources,” said Adam Sholar, President and CEO of the NC Health Care Facilities Association.
A list of additional guidance for long-term care facilities can be found here: https://covid19.ncdhhs.gov/guidance#long-term-care-facilities.