Nursing homes have unique challenge in limiting exposure to coronavirus

Elderly woman online
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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Because of the risk to older Americans and those with pre-existing medical conditions, many nursing homes and retirement communities are ramping up efforts to keep those communities safe from the coronavirus.

"This is different because of how contagious it is and how scary and quickly it has been spreading," said Melissa O'Connor, director of the Gerontology Interest Group, and associate professor of nursing at Villanova University.

She says nursing homes are limiting visits from the outside for the safety of patients.

"Each nursing home or each long-term care facility will be different. The CDC is recommending certain things that they need to do, but then other facilities are taking it a step further, so they can really be sure that they are keeping the residents safe," she said.

That includes restricting visits by family to Facebook Live or Skype, canceling appointments by non-essential staff like podiatrists and hair dressers, and limiting outside excursions to medical appointments only.

O'Connor says it's also important to remember that this situation is not going to last forever, but it will be an inconvenience for a while.