Sharona Tsadok-Rosenbluth, Gideon Leibner, Boaz Hovav, Gal Horowitz and Shuli Brammli-Greenberg
An updated report (up to 29 April) on the Long-Term Care COVID-19 situation in Israel is now available in this website.
In Israel, as in most of the Western world, Long-Term Care is organized in a fragmented manner. Long-Term Care Facilities (LTCFs) are subordinated to several government bodies and this is likely to be one of the reasons for the slow response to COVID-19 in the LTFCs.
The first COVID-19 patient in Israel was diagnosed on February 27th and since then the number of confirmed cases has risen to 15,782 (as of April 29th), with 120 in serious condition and 202 deaths. Of the deaths, 65 were LTC residents (32%). The first outbreak in Israeli LTCFs began in mid-March, sixteen days after the first patient was diagnosed in Israel. Only a month after the initial outbreak, and following massive public criticism and a call for help from the managers of LTCFs, the Israeli government appointed a national-level team to manage the COVID-19 outbreaks in the LTCFs.
The national project called “Mothers and Fathers Shield” was initiated on April 12th, a week later, on April 20th, the project team published a national work plan which its main principals include:
- Establishment of a single headquarters to coordinate government efforts;
- Expanding the Home Front Command’s role – to train LTCF staff in protection against COVID-19 infection and to provide assistance in disinfection.
- Establishing COVID-19 patients care departments within each of the institutions.
- Increasing the scope of COVID-19 testing in LTCFs, including those with no identified COVID-19 patients.
- Managing the social distance of patients to mitigate loneliness.
Lessons learnt so far:
Covid-19 testing policy in LTCFs should be constantly updated and based on information and research that is collected and published on a daily basis. LTCFs, which are at high risk of infection, require a dynamic response and special attention to their needs.
In view of the fact that LTCF residents are especially vulnerable to pandemics such as COVID-19, and based on our experience so far, in the report we present a proposal of a three-step approach to controlling outbreaks in LTCFs.