OHA, DHS introduces new COVID testing program for long-term care facilities

The Oregon Department of Human Services and the Oregon Health Authority announced a new COVID-19 testing plan Monday afternoon for long-term care facilities.

Care centers in Oregon have been hit with outbreaks throughout the pandemic. Last week, the governor’s office said that out of the state’s 688 large long term-care facilities 16 had confirmed coronavirus cases.

According to Elisa Williams with the Oregon Health Authority, the new plan will happen in two phases. In the first phase, all facilities will test all staff and all residents for the virus. Testing will begin on June 24 and will cover more than 680 long-term care facilities across the state, which provide care for around 31,000 residents and employ 29,000 staff, Williams said.

Multnomah, Washington, Clackamas, Yamhill, Marion and Polk counties will be prioritized for testing because those counties have experienced the most outbreaks, Williams said. Testing will then move to assisted living and residential care facilities with memory care units in those counties, before moving on to facilities without memory care. 

In the second phase, facilities will have to develop and carry out plans for ongoing patient monitoring. The facilities will have to outline how they will monitor and test all residents and staff, Williams said. All staff will need to be tested once per month. 

Gov. Kate Brown announced June 9 she was directing the DHS and the OHA to develop a testing plan to protect residents and staff in long-term care facilities. 

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