State-Wide Long Term Care COVID-19 Testing

State-Wide Long Term Care COVID-19 Testing

WA State Department of Health continues to work with local health jurisdictions and the Governor’s office on a plan for testing long term care facility residents and staff.  We did hear from Dr. Charissa Fotinos on the DOH-Comagine call on Thursday, May 21st, that the two week time frame suggested for testing has not yet started, this will start once the directive has been given by DOH and Dr. Weissman.

As of now, the thought is this testing will happen in facilities that have not done testing of staff and residents since April 1st.  The state will be provide test kits, which will be nasal swabs (not NP swabs) and PPE needed for the testing.  DOH is hoping facility Medical Directors in skilled nursing facilities will write orders for residents and staff, and that facility staff nurses will complete the testing.  The ongoing staff testing is thought to be every two weeks, but again, the plan has not been finalized. One of the main barriers yet to be addressed is cost for processing these tests. Medicare and Medicaid will cover resident testing, coordinating the cost of staff testing every two weeks is an ongoing discussion.

We would encourage you to start writing your testing plan now. Things to start working on/considering;

  • Obtain informed consent from residents and standing orders from MDs for resident testing. Ask Medical Director to write standing orders for staff, or have staff obtain an order from their PCP.
  • Who will perform the testing in your building? These will be nasal swabs, can be delegated in assisted living with training of NAC/HCA.
  • Who will be responsible for giving results to residents and staff? Remember, this is protected health information for both residents and staff! If Medical Director delegates this to the DNS-it cannot be delegated to someone else.
  • What will be your process for coordinating the testing? (Staff needed, completion of lab requisition forms, labeling of specimen tubes).
  • Does your lab guarantee 48-hour turnaround times? If not, consider using one of the state contracted labs.
  • Where will you do the test (Staff testing needs to be done in private area, residents can be tested in their rooms).

We would encourage you to review Testing Guidance for Nursing Homes and Performing Facility-wide SARS-CoV-2 Testing in Nursing Homes





Laura Hofmann, MSN, RN – Director of Clinical and Nursing Facility Regulatory Services

c: 425-231-4804

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