DSHS opens units in long-term care facilities to treat non-COVID patients from hospitals


New units in nursing homes will free up hospital beds

OLYMPIA — As part of a series of actions announced by Gov. Jay Inslee last month to ease the strain on hospitals and staff during the omicron surge, the Department of Social and Health Services is increasing the resources needed to transition non-COVID patients who no longer need acute care into long-term care facilities.

DSHS has contracted with 10 nursing homes across the state, and is providing staffing resources to establish dedicated units for these patients. In turn, more than 240 hospital beds will be freed up for those in need of acute treatment. The first unit, at Kin On Rehabilitation and Care Center in Seattle, opens this week.

“While I’m encouraged by our rapidly declining COVID-19 case rates, our hospitalization rate remains higher than at any other point during the pandemic,” said Inslee. “Our hospital staff continue to do incredible work, but many are understandably burned out. This program is a crucial step to ease some of the burden that’s been placed on them during this surge.”

DSHS has contracted with AMN Healthcare, a temporary nurse staffing agency, to provide roughly 250 registered nurses, licensed practical nurses and certified nursing assistants to staff the 10 units around-the-clock. Long-term care facilities have faced severe staffing challenges during the omicron surge since many staff are out sick or have left the workforce. In turn, that has limited the number of non-COVID patients the facilities have been able to admit from hospitals.

“The high transmissibility of the omicron variant has significantly increased the amount of COVID-related hospitalizations in Washington,” said DSHS Assistant Secretary Bill Moss. “This is a much-needed resource that aligns with the governor’s initiative of supporting hospital staff and their capacity to treat patients.”

In addition to Kin On Rehabilitation and Care Center, units will open over the next month at:

· Avalon Federal Way Care Center

· North Cascades Health and Rehabilitation Center in Bellingham

· Stafford Healthcare in Des Moines

· The Oaks at Lakewood

· Olympia Transitional Care and Rehabilitation

· Vancouver Specialty and Rehabilitative Care

· The Oaks at Timberline in Vancouver

· Royal Park Health and Rehabilitation in Spokane

· Avalon Health & Rehabilitation Center in Pasco

The goal is to provide a flow of patients between acute hospitals, these contracted units and the long-term services and supports system for individuals that need them. To achieve this, patients will discharge into the community when they are fully recovered, or will move to the general population of the nursing home if needed for a longer stay. The units will operate until June 30.