COVID-19 Transmission in a Psychiatric Long-Term Care Rehabilitation Facility: An Observational Study

Article Abstract

Objective: To report the clinical characteristics and transmission rate of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in a community inpatient long-term care psychiatric rehabilitation facility designed for persons with serious mental illness to provide insight into transmission and symptom patterns and emerging testing protocols, as well as medical complications and prognosis.

Methods: This study examined a cohort of 54 residents of a long-term care psychiatric rehabilitation program from March to April 2020. Baseline demographics, clinical diagnoses, and vital signs were examined to look for statistical differences between positive versus negative severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-COV-2) groups. During the early phase of the pandemic, the facility closely followed the local shelter-in-place order (starting March 19, 2020) and symptom-based testing.

Results: Of the residents, the primary psychiatric diagnoses were schizoaffective disorder: 28 (51.9%), schizophrenia: 21 (38.9%), bipolar I disorder: 3 (5.5%), and unspecified psychotic disorder: 2 (3.7%). Forty (74%) of 54 residents tested positive for SARS-COV-2, with a doubling time of 3.9 days. There were no statistical differences between the positive SARS-COV-2 versus negative groups for age or race/ethnicity. Psychiatric and medical conditions were not significantly associated with contracting SARS-COV-2, with the exception of obesity (n = 17 [43%] positive vs n = 12 [86%] negative, P = .01). Medical monitoring of vital signs and symptoms did not lead to earlier detection. All of the residents completely recovered, with the last resident no longer showing any symptoms 24 days from the index case.

Conclusion: Research is needed to determine optimal strategies for long-term care mental health settings that incorporate frequent testing and personal protective equipment use to prevent rapid transmission of SARS-COV-2.

Volume: 22

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