• The Star Staff

Health Dept. publishes guide for elder care facilities

By John McPhaul


The island Health Department on Monday published the Guide for Elder Care Establishments, whose main objective is to safeguard the safety and well being of the elderly, providing tools to caregivers who offer services at long-term care facilities in Puerto Rico.

“Given the emergency situation we are experiencing today due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the health and safety of all older adults have become our priority, as they are the most vulnerable group,” said Idania Rodríguez, an epidemiologist and director of the initiative for screening the elderly, in a written statement. “With this publication we intend to continue our responsibility to guide all people who directly or indirectly relate to senior citizens, especially in long-term care facilities. It is a complete and extremely useful guide.”

Rodríguez added that all information detailed in the publication is consistent with the guidelines of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The publication, which covers everything related to COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, includes the definition of the disease; how it spreads, as well as measures to slow the spread; priority groups for testing; the importance of the effective use of personal protective equipment, including the correct way to remove the equipment; the various COVID zones in elder care facilities; and how to handle recovered patients, among other important topics.

Rodríguez noted that the questions raised by the people who work in the island’s senior care facilities were considered as part of the document’s development. Thus the guide is aimed primarily at caregivers, nursing staff, administrative staff and anyone who works on or visits the premises of any type of care facility for the elderly.

Various commonwealth government agencies participated in the writing and preparation of the guide, such as the Health, Family and Justice departments and the Bureau for Emergency Management and Disaster Administration. Also participating were the Federal Emergency Management Agency and private entities, among other contributors. The document will be updated as new indications are published by the relevant authorities.

According to data released by the CDC, the risk of severe COVID-19 symptoms increases with age, and people 85 and older are at higher risk, especially if they have pre-existing conditions.

The Guide for Elder Care Establishments is available through the Health Department’s website by accessing the following address: www.salud.gov.pr.

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