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Ohio Broadens COVID-19 Testing Guidance to Lessen Spread for Seniors

Press Releases | April 24, 2020

caregiver taking temperature of a resident

COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Ohio Department of Health (ODH) has released updated COVID-19 guidance that seeks to expand test availability for asymptomatic residents in congregate settings. This change supports the philosophy behind the innovative and collaborative Post-Acute Regional Rapid Testing (PARRT) program, which provides rapid COVID-19 testing in post-acute settings including nursing homes and assisted living facilities.

PARRT was launched on April 11, 2020 by National Church Residences, Central Ohio Geriatrics, Ohio Living and LeadingAge Ohio with support from ODH, Franklin County Health Department and Columbus Health Department. PARRT operates seven days a week, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. More than 160 seniors in 23 facilities across four counties have already been tested through PARRT and an additional 150 tests are slated for the weekend.

“We’re grateful that ODH is encouraging a more assertive approach to testing Ohio’s most vulnerable citizens,” said Dr. Weigand, Chief Medical Officer at National Church Residences. “Widespread testing is critical and this new guidance enables programs like PARRT to expand testing for high-risk seniors.”

Once a patient is identified, a team of two technicians, including one skilled medical professional and an assistant, collects swabbed specimens at each site, then delivers samples securely packed in an ice chest to an Ohio Department of Health lab that turns around results within a day. The swab team, medical reserve corps volunteers trained by The Ohio State University, is suited in full Personal Protective Equipment, including a fit-tested N-95 mask, face shield, gown, hair covering, shoe covers and gloves.

“Our Chief Medical Officer recognized a need in COVID-19 testing services,” said National Church Residences President and CEO Mark Ricketts. “He not only stepped up to close the gap but is encouraging expanding this as a statewide approach. We’re thankful that ODH is taking action to provide greater support for Ohio’s seniors.”

In order to quickly launch the PARRT program, National Church Residences expanded its existing COVID-19 hotline to facilitate the rapid testing requests with a new, dedicated line for PARRT. Call center and logistics teams are staffed by the organization.

“We had this idea to say, what can we do as four organizations to proactively test residents in assisted living and skilled nursing operations through the greater Columbus market?” recalled Ohio Living CEO Larry Gumina. “If we can identify COVID-19 residents in these existing communities, we can treat in-place and prevent a potential hotspot situation that could overwhelm the hospital system.”

“We hope that the successful deployment of PARRT in Franklin and contiguous counties will inspire organizations to replicate the process in other areas of the state,” said CEO Kathryn Brod of LeadingAge Ohio. “Expanded testing in long-term care is a necessity to safeguard as many vulnerable seniors and healthcare workers as possible.”

LeadingAge Ohio, National Church Residences and Ohio Living are providing initial financial support for the innovation and its application across regional facilities serving 15,000 residents. The Columbus Foundation’s Emergency Response Fund has awarded $100,000 to support the PARRT program. Testing costs for those covered by Medicaid will be fully reimbursed.

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“We had this idea to say, what can we do as four organizations to proactively test residents in assisted living and skilled nursing operations through the greater Columbus market? Our intent was, if we can identify Covid-19 residents in these existing communities, maybe we can treat in place and prevent the surge that’s happening that could overwhelm the hospital system. – Larry Gumina, CEO Ohio Living

Ohio Broadens COVID-19 Testing Guidance to Lessen Spread for Seniors

The Ohio Department of Health (ODH) has released updated COVID-19 guidance that seeks to expand test availability for asymptomatic residents in congregate settings. This change supports the philosophy behind the innovative and collaborative Post-Acute Regional Rapid Testing (PARRT) program, which provides rapid COVID-19 testing in post-acute settings including nursing homes and assisted living facilities.

State reports 276 coronavirus deaths in Ohio’s long-term-care facilities since April 15

A coalition launched by National Church Residences, in partnership with Central Ohio Geriatrics, Ohio Living, LeadingAge Ohio and the Columbus Foundation – called the Post-Acute Regional Rapid Testing program – is spearheading an effort to get tests for entire facilities. The PARRT program is supported by the state Health Department, Franklin County Public Health and Columbus Public Health.

Partnership helps bring rapid COVID-19 testing to Ohio nursing homes

After a conversation with leadership at the National Church Residences, Weigand said they formed the Post-Acute Rapid Response Testing program, or PARRT. Through the help of donations and grant money, they set up a call center, trained teams to conduct tests at long-term care facilities and partnered with The Ohio State University’s reference lab, which is conducting the testing for nursing home patients.

 

About National Church Residences

National Church Residences serves more than 42,000 seniors through its array of housing and health care services. The not-for-profit organization is driven by a vision of advancing better living for all seniors, enabling them to remain home for life. With 340 communities in 25 states and Puerto Rico, it is the nation’s largest not-for-profit provider of affordable senior housing and the largest manager of service coordinators. The organization also offers residential senior communities, home and community-based services, as well as permanent supportive housing for the formerly homeless and disabled. For more information, visit NationalChurchResidences.org.

About Central Ohio Geriatrics

For the past decade, Central Ohio Geriatrics, LLC has been caring for seniors in skilled nursing and long term care facilities, assisted living communities and medical offices. These offices are staffed by dedicated, specially trained geriatricians and Advance Practice Providers (Physician Assistants and Certified Nurse Practitioners) who are committed to providing consistent primary care and wellness services to patients throughout Central Ohio.

About Ohio Living

Ohio Living is one of the largest and most experienced not-for-profit, multi-site senior living organizations. Each year, Ohio Living serves more than 73,000 people through one of our 13 life plan communities and Ohio Living Home Health & Hospice. Our Ohio-based services range from a variety of housing options in one of our communities through the full continuum of care to post-home health and hospice support for adults, wherever they live. Additionally, the Ohio Living Foundation raises several million dollars annually to support charity care, special programs, capital expansion and endowment.

About LeadingAge Ohio

Founded in 1937, LeadingAge Ohio is a nonprofit organization that represents over 400 long-term care organizations and hospices, as well as those providing ancillary health care and housing services, in more than 150 Ohio towns and cities. The continuum of care reflected by the member organizations serve an estimated 400,000 elderly Ohioans daily and employ more than 35,000 persons statewide.

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