Student Teams Assess COVID Prevention Measures at Long-Term Care Facilities
In a new partnership with the Hillsborough County health department, the USF Health College of Nursing is deploying teams of graduate nursing students to local long-term care facilities with no reported COVID-19 cases to identify ways to strengthen their infection control measures and to slow the spread of the coronavirus within the county’s most vulnerable population.
Long-term care facilities account for a notable share of cases and deaths in many states. In Hillsborough, the first COVID-19 case in a long-term care facility was reported in early April. And while the state recently began phase 2 of its reopening plan, long-term care facilities continue to be closed for visitors under an executive order signed by Governor Ron DeSantis.
“The College of Nursing had been looking for ways to support efforts to stem the tide of COVID-19 infections in the community and to help those affected,” said Assistant Professor Brittany Hay, DNP, APRN, ANP-BC, FNP-BC, who is overseeing the college’s collaboration with the health department.
Dr. Hay, who has expertise in geriatric care at long-term care facilities, helped develop the prevention aspects used by the student assessment teams. She said the partnership is another way USF nursing students are contributing to the fight against COVID-19.
In the past couple of months, nursing students have helped with coronavirus-related contact tracing, screening, and telehealth programs.
“The goal of this program is not surveillance of the virus but prevention and preparedness,” she said. “We are visiting facilities as part of a collective effort to get as many infection control practices established to prevent occurrence of COVID-19 infection and mitigate any spread within one of our most vulnerable populations.”
Student teams will do a risk assessment at long-term care facilities that have not reported any positive cases of COVID-19. Two Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) students will help manage the project where about a dozen nurse practitioner students have volunteered to participate.
College of Nursing DNP student Ashley Rehmann said the COVID-19 pandemic has presented many challenges not only to health care but to the community as well.
“This partnership builds upon the collaborative efforts in COVID-19 prevention, and it is a privilege to be apart of this program,” Rehmann said.
Dr. Hay said facilities can opt for a virtual infection control and prevention assessment, but an on-site visit is preferred. After the assessment and its recommendations are complete, students conduct a follow-up call about a week later to address any additional needs and discuss the progress toward the goals.
Overall, the partnership is a great opportunity for nursing students to gain valuable experience while helping to reduce the community transmission of the virus, said Dr. Hay.
“This helps us better prepare a future workforce for public health challenges,” she said. “This pandemic has forced traditional clinical experiences and educational strategies to meet the need in the community.”
Story by Elizabeth L. Brown, USF College of Nursing