“Nursing homes are struggling right now. We’re trying to be proactive in helping them manage their ill patients and make the hard decisions about when to send them to the hospital,” says Christina Catlett, director of the Johns Hopkins Go Team, a disaster response unit formed a decade ago to provide clinical and logistical support to communities that are reeling from hurricanes, earthquakes and other catastrophes.
In mid-April, the Go Team began offering assistance to nursing homes in Maryland, whose residents account for about half of the state’s COVID-19 deaths. On April 29, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan mandated COVID-19 testing for all residents and staff members in Maryland nursing homes. As of early May, at least six nursing homes in the state had each reported 100 or more cases.
The Go Team team tests residents for COVID-19, assesses the health of those who have the disease, talks with staff members about infection-prevention strategies and provides moral support. “What [nursing home employees] really need and want is testing and also just support. So many are overworked and feeling alone. The strike teams give them a little morale boost, let them know we’re looking out for them,” says Morgan Katz, director of antimicrobial stewardship at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center.