A Georgia-based senior living operator has announced plans to house discharged older hospital patients with COVID-19 as some industry groups are opposing orders from state governments that would restrict providers in their ability to deny such admissions.

Phoenix Senior Living will work with Atlanta-area healthcare systems and will accept discharged older adults who have tested positive for COVID-19 at three of its communities, the Roswell, GA-based company announced Thursday. The admissions will be limited to individuals who are asymptomatic or who exhibit only mild symptoms and do not require 24-hour nursing care.

“This is the right thing to do, given the circumstances and the adversity these health systems are facing,” Phoenix Senior Living CEO Jesse Marinko said in the announcement. “Every decision has risk, but sometimes you have to follow your moral compass and trust your intentions.”

The company said it launched its Healthcare Partnership Program in conjunction with local healthcare systems and with the support of the Georgia Department of Community Health and the Georgia Department of Public Health. Participating older adults will be able to move into specifically designated buildings, wings or other areas isolated from existing Phoenix community residents, according to the company. The incoming individuals will be under Centers for Disease Control and Prevention quarantine and will live in private suites.

Clinical support specialists will be deployed to the designated communities to provide experienced clinical oversight, infection control training and demonstrations on proper use of personal protective equipment. New residents’ care and meals will be delivered by designated, trained staff members wearing PPE.

Across its 41-community portfolio, the company has had 22 employees who may have been exposed to the virus and four residents who have tested positive, two of whom have died.

ACHCA joins AHCA / NCAL and AMDA in opposing hospital-related orders

The Phoenix announcement came as the American College of Health Care Administrators announced in a letter that it had endorsed and signed on to a recent statement from the American Health Care Association / National Center for Assisted Living and AMDA–The Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine regarding hospital discharges and admissions to assisted living communities and nursing homes.

The organizations had cited a recent New York state order that bars long-term care facilities from denying admission based solely on confirmed or suspected COVID-19 diagnoses, and prohibits long-term care facilities from requiring COVID-19 tests prior to admission or re-admission of hospitalized residents. The order applies to nursing homes, but AMDA and AHCA / NCAL said their concerns extended to assisted living communities as well, and they noted that other states “may already be adopting a similar approach in order to free up hospital beds.”

“As stated in the letter, ‘A blanket, one-size-fits-all approach statewide, which will include areas of the state that are not as severely impacted as others, will result in more people going to the hospital and more deaths than using a more strategic and collaborative approach that takes all of the above elements into consideration,’ ” ACHCA said Thursday.

The concerns expressed by AHCA / NCAL and AMDA related to the practice growing appear to have been warranted; Connecticut now is planning to designate specific facilities for residents who have tested positive for COVID-19 and those who have not, although some moves will be voluntary, according to WFSB.com.

Residents evacuated to hospital

In a reverse situation, residents of Carter Place, an Enlivant assisted living community in Blair, NE, have been transferred to CHI Health Midlands Hospital in Papillion, NE, after several residents and staff members tested positive for COVID-19, according to a press release from the Three Rivers Health Department.

“The hospital has reopened a floor as a quarantine unit for patients that either had COVID-19 or an exposure to COVID-19,” the health department said.

The assisted living community, associated with 17 cases of the disease, has been closed and is being disinfected, according to a local media report.

Meanwhile, a Massachusetts nursing home that had begun transferring residents to sister facilities so that it could become a COVID-19 treatment site had to pause its efforts when some of the existing nursing home residents tested positive for COVID-19.

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