Minnesota SNF and AL Facility Directors – Please Review This COVID-19 Testing Information ASAP!

Mary Madison, RN, RAC-CT, CDP 
Clinical Consultant – Briggs Healthcare

I received the following email notification at 4pm on Thursday, July 30, 2020 and wanted to pass it on to SNF and AL facilities to make sure you see it:

Dear Facility Directors,

Long-term care populations, including those in skilled nursing and assisted living facilities, are at high risk for infection, serious illness, and death from COVID-19. Testing is a critical component of a broad-based strategy for protecting residents and staff that also includes triage and clinical consultation, infection control and prevention measures, and planning for staffing surge capacity.

The State of Minnesota has made it a priority to develop a robust testing infrastructure and has worked diligently to increase statewide testing capacity so we can support facilities’ just-in-time testing needs. Over the last two months, we have tested over 400 facilities and responded to requests from all facilities that met the guidance identified in the Battle Plan (one COVID+ staff or resident or 2 symptomatic staff or residents).

As of mid-July, we no longer have a backlog of facilities waiting to be tested. In fact, our current capacity for testing in long-term care facilities is being underused. If your facility meets the guidance for full-facility testing (MDH COVID-19 Testing Recommendations for Long-term Care Facilities (PDF)), it’s very important that you move ahead with implementing testing for your residents and staff as soon as possible. At this point, state-contracted teams can also provide baseline testing for lower risk facilities, including those that do not currently have symptomatic staff or residents. State-contracted teams will return on a case-by-case basis as needed to assist with 7-day and 14-day testing. Our testing model includes a “train the trainer” opportunity to empower facilities to continue PPS testing on their own, in which state-contracted teams will teach facility staff how to perform specimen collection.

We want to make sure we are making full use of the capacity that we have worked hard to grow, and supporting you in moving forward on your testing plans. If your facility would benefit from a state-contracted swabbing team, you are strongly encouraged to use the REDCap survey tool to request a visit. You can access that tool here: COVID-19 Testing Requests and Allocations for Long Term Care.

As always, if you have questions about testing in your facility or if you have encountered barriers to moving forward with testing, please contact the SEOC Long-Term Care Testing Team at seoc.covid.testing@state.mn.us.

Thank you,

Michelle Larson, PhD
Director, Health Regulation Division
Minnesota Department of Health
michelle.larson@state.mn.us