COVID-19: Bellarmine professor advising state on long-term care residents

April 17, 2020

Dr. David Wolf
A Bellarmine University professor who is nationally recognized in the aging-care sector is helping Kentucky identify policies, procedures, and protocols that will assist long-term care facilities in accepting COVID-19 patients from area hospitals.
Dr. David G. Wolf, professor and chair of Bellarmine University’s Health & Aging Services Leadership Department in the College of Health Professions, is one of the appointees to the COVID-19 Long-Term Care/Post-Acute Care (LTC/PAC) Taskforce that Gov. Andy Beshear created by executive order on April 9. The governor declared a state of emergency in Kentucky due to the outbreak of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) on March 6.
The LTC/PAC Taskforce, a collaborative committee of the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services, the Office of the Inspector General and the Department of Public Health, will provide advice and guidance about how to prevent the coronavirus from devastating the commonwealth’s nursing homes and other long-term care facilities.
Because the elderly and those with underlying health conditions are especially susceptible to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), long-term care communities have become incubators for outbreaks across the United States. As of April 16, Kentucky had a total of 2,429 confirmed cases of coronavirus and 129 confirmed deaths, Gov. Beshear said. Thirty-seven long-term care residents have died.
“I am honored and privileged to serve on this task force,” Dr. Wolf said. “COVID-19 has been spreading quickly in long-term care facilities around the country and has raised intense concern for the safety of their residents. Because the elderly population are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19, we must be vigilant in creating protocols that will address the clinical, operational, regulatory, technological and staffing needs of these communities.” 
Gov. Beshear formed the LTC Taskforce after learning that some long-term care facilities were refusing to admit elderly patients that hospitals had discharged in order to open beds for the anticipated surge of severe coronavirus cases. Other long-term care facilities had no way to separate sick residents from those who are healthy, leading to more novel coronavirus infections.
In response, at least three nursing homes in Louisville and Winchester are creating isolated wings, or coronavirus units, for up to 100 residents who have tested positive but do not need extensive care. A field hospital with 250 beds and room for expansion has opened at the Kentucky Exposition Center, and another is being built at the University of Kentucky. Residents will remain in these special units until they test negative for the virus.
The Commissioner of Health and Inspector General have requested the task force meet at as necessary until the requested protocols for patient/resident transfer are fully developed.
“There is a huge sense of urgency with the state over these issues,” said Dr. Mark Wiegand, Bellarmine’s associate provost. “We are so fortunate to be able to tap into the expertise of Dr. Wolf, Dr. Keith Knapp (Dr. Wolf’s predecessor at Bellarmine) and Ms. Mary Haynes, president & CEO of Nazareth Home, who represent long-term care administrators on the taskforce.” 
Dr. Wolf owned and operated a nursing home, assisted-living facility, home health care organization and an outpatient rehabilitation facility in Linwood, N.J., before deciding to pursue an academic career specializing in long-term care. He came to Bellarmine in 2019 from Barry University in Miami Shores, Fla., where he had been a professor, the academic coordinator for Health Services Administration and, since January 2019, interim dean of the School of Professional and Career Education (PACE).
He was previously CEO of the nationally recognized INTERACT Training Education And Management (ITEAM) Strategies Inc., an organization developed to assist the long-term care industry to improve the quality of care of older adults who experience acute changes in condition in nursing homes, assisted living facilities and home health care who may not need to be transferred back to the hospital. INTERACT is an evidence-based quality improvement program designed to prevent unnecessary and costly re-hospitalizations of older adults.

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