Published: 2.2.21 | By: Daniel Baker, Primary Care Coalition Communications Specialist
Nexus Montgomery’s Skilled Nursing Facility [SNF] Alliance began in 2017 with a goal to reduce readmissions and improve patient outcomes among the 26 SNFs across Montgomery County (and two in Prince George’s County). Today, the SNF Alliance consists of 36 SNFs.
As we begin 2021, we wanted to acknowledge the challenge our health care providers faced; keeping SNF Alliance patients healthy during a pandemic.
During the fall of 2020, the SNFs encountered a familiar vaccination challenge with a twist. Due to COVID-19, they faced increased pressure to distribute the influenza and pneumococcal vaccines to their patients and staff members. It’s one thing to face a once-in-a-century virus. It’s another when the difficulty of caring for patients is compounded with the annual challenge of preventing the spread of both the flu and pneumonia.
Fortunately, the SNF Alliance was well prepared to vaccinate both the high-risk patients it cares for and staff that dole out the care. This foresight undoubtedly saved lives.
Ahead of the 2020 flu season, the SNF Alliance aimed to raise each facility’s vaccination rate to get as close as possible to the national average or increase the rate from the previous year.
For short-stay patients, 14 out of 34 facilities vaccinated for the flu above the national average as did 15 out of 34 facilities for pneumonia. 17 out of 34 SNFs beat the national average of vaccinating long-stay patients while 15 out of 34 facilities did so for pneumonia.
Reviewing data collected from 34 of the 36 facilities shows that over half of them vaccinated a higher percentage of their populations in 2020 than they did in 2019. Compared to 2019, for short-stay patients, 55.88% of facilities vaccinated a higher percentage for the flu and 58.82% of facilities did so for pneumonia.
The numbers weren’t quite as good for long-stay patientsas only 35.29% of facilities vaccinated a higher percentage of patients for the flu and just 50% beat their 2019 numbers for pneumonia.
Sometimes progress isn’t measured by lifting numbers to new heights, but simply stopping the crushing weight of potential catastrophe.This year, the SNF Alliance assisted area hospitals by learning on the fly to treat COVID-19 patients and keep critical ICU beds free for those most in need. Add that to the traditional tasks of flu season and it’s not difficult to view the vaccination program as a success. None of this would have been possible without the communication and collaboration made possible by the SNF Alliance. Sharing resources and expertiseensures that no facility operates in isolation. SNFs can rely on the strength of the Nexus Montgomery partnerships to achieve better results than they would on their own.