R.I. nursing homes concerned about state’s loosened COVID testing policy

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) — Many of Rhode Island’s nursing homes are sounding the alarm after the state changed a policy requiring residents to test negative for COVID twice, before returning home from a hospital visit.

Now, residents only have to test negative once before heading back to their facilities.

“We fought long and hard to get any testing done,” said Scott Fraser, CEO of the Rhode Island Healthcare Association, which represents 64 nursing homes in the state.

“Ultimately, what we’ve been asking for — two tests — was finally put into place back in the spring,” Fraser said, “and its been very helpful.”

The state’s new guidance went into effect on August 28, and the Department of Health still recommends residents quarantine for 14 days upon returning from the hospital.

But Fraser would still like to see an extra security blanket in place.

“Since the change of policy, we’ve had two or three occasions where someone was released from the hospital after testing negative or ‘COVID unknown’ once, and in their 14 day quarantine upon returning, they tested positive for the virus,” he explained.

With the fall and flu season rapidly approaching, Fraser wonders why the state’s policy changed.

“We don’t think it puts any extra burden on the hospitals,” he said. “It’s been done, its been successful, it worked well.”  

“Since we don’t know what the future brings, we don’t think now is the time to be cutting back on testing which we know has been helpful.”

According to the state’s latest set of data, 775 nursing home residents have died from COVID-19 in Rhode Island. 

© WLNE-TV // ABC 6  2020

Categories: Coronavirus, News, Rhode Island