The elderly, and the health care workers who look after them, are among the most vulnerable people to COVID-19. As the pandemic spread through nursing homes and other long-term care facilities across the United States in 2020, it became clear that these care facilities were in dire need of in-person, targeted infection prevention and control (IPC) training. In particular, the environmental services staff (EVS)—the people who clean, cook, and do laundry for the residents—were dangerously overlooked when it came to receiving IPC training, despite the fact that they are a critical part of preventing the spread of disease. Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) teams responded by providing IPC training to clinical and non-clinical workers at 80 long-term care facilities in Michigan and Texas.
Nursing home staff have been working long hours, often without the tools and resources they need for effective prevention. Many have experienced the trauma of watching residents and colleagues fall sick and die. Some have become sick themselves. They’ve worried about bringing the coronavirus home to their families, or bringing the disease to residents. Recognizing the extreme pressure these essential staff have been under, MSF teams provided mental health and wellness training sessions at 59 of the facilities where they also performed IPC training.
These are images from MSF’s work in Houston, Texas, which wrapped up in October.