For industry insiders, it’s no surprise that nursing homes share staff. But new research at Yale University shows just how interconnected facilities are.
According to Dave Wilkinson, Executive Director of Yale University’s Tobin Center, 80% of the country’s nursing homes share staff.
“This can be health professionals, nursing aids or specialists or other staff,” Wilkinson said, adding many of these workers likely take on additional jobs because of low pay.
ABOVE: Watch Cait McVey's story
Wilkinson also says the cross-traffic is considered a major factor in the spread of the virus at long-term care facilities.
“What the research shows is the phenomenon of shared staff has been a significant driver of transmission in the United States,” Wilkinson said.
Researchers at the university believe stopping that connectivity at the height of the pandemic could’ve cut nursing home COVID-19 cases by 44%.
The Tobin Center has created an interactive site that shows in more detail the frequency of shared staff and while some of it’s alarming, Wilkinson says it can also serve as an early warning system.
“If there’s an outbreak at one nursing homes and the data shows that nursing home is deeply connected to 5 others, the first thing you want to do is notify those other 5 nursing homes,” Wilkinson said.
In turn, those facilities can activate higher level precautions, like testing and full PPE.