Avera eCARE® announces the launch of Nursing Home Project ECHO. This project is supported by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), Project ECHO and the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) to advance improvements in COVID-19 preparedness, safety and infection control in nursing homes.

A Project ECHO “hub” since 2018, Avera eCARE was the first in South Dakota to launch this program. Project ECHO is a telementoring program which supports caregivers and practitioners via telemedicine technology. Avera eCARE will serve as a virtual community of practice for nursing home staff to engage with experts and their peers and share cases for real-time discussion and advice.

Given the increase spread of the coronavirus, Avera is acutely aware of the risk this type of illness poses to the elderly and nursing home communities. “Avera eCARE’s Senior Care division has been leveraging telehealth technology throughout the pandemic to bolster safety for this high risk population,” said Josh Hofmeyer, Senior Care Officer at Avera eCARE. “For example, we’re helping facilities to use telemedicine for physician visits and assessments so residents can receive care in place, where it’s safest for them to be during this time.”

“Participation in a special ECHO project for nursing homes is one more way we can support facilities and their residents during the pandemic and beyond,” Hofmeyer said.

Nursing home staff members are among the most needed and most at-risk essential workers, and this 16-week interactive virtual learning community will provide support and skill sets from experts that can be implemented immediately to protect both residents and staff from the virus. The program will be updated weekly, covering a wide scope of topics related to COVID-19 response and preparedness, as well as quality improvement methods to support ongoing testing and learning by staff.

“This training could not have come at a better time to help deepen the commitment to protecting the nursing home residents and staff members. Avera eCARE is here to support and strengthen the care provided in nursing homes to protect millions of lives,” Hofmeyer said.

Facilities interested in participating can contact Avera eCARE Senior Care.

You can also visit https://hsc.unm.edu/echo/nursing-home/ to learn more about this effort.