people waving to nursing home resident from window
Arcadia Resident Helen Paris celebrated her 100th birthday with friends and family with respect to social distancing. Taken prior to state’s mandatory mask requirement. (Photo courtesy: Arcadia Family of Companies)

Observing the rate at which COVID-19 has afflicted the globe, Hawaiʻi government officials put in place stringent controls to protect its residents from the rapidly spreading virus. The state has flattened the curve, but staying flat depends on keeping social distancing guidelines in place, especially in senior living and nursing facilities.

Patricia Blanchette, founder of the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa John A. Burns School of Medicine’s (JABSOM) geriatric medicine department, sensed that coronavirus could sweep through Hawaiʻi’s senior facilities if there was any hesitation in executing protective measures.

Thirteen of Hawaiʻi’s nursing and senior living facilities, as well as two hospices, are where JABSOM and its faculty practice organization, University Health Partners, have placed geriatricians to serve as medical directors and associate directors. They are teachers for the department’s Teaching Nursing Home program and train medical students, residents and fellows in geriatric medicine.

“I recommended in early March that these medical facilities close to family, casual visitors and volunteers. Also, at entry, the nursing facility should screen employees, doctors, nurse practitioners and therapists before allowing them into the facility. We recommended wearing masks, taking everyone’s temperature at the door and not allowing anyone to enter if they had traveled out of state over the past 14 days or had symptoms known to be associated with COVID-19,” Blanchette said. “This was the imposition of an early quarantine.”

Read the full story on the JABSOM website.

By Paula Bender