Project ECHO Nevada to join new nationwide initiative to fight COVID-19 infection in nursing homes

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Project ECHO Nevada, an innovative health care delivery solution out of the University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine (UNR Med) is joining a nationwide training program to help keep COVID-19 from spreading in area nursing homes, and to prepare and equip staff so that they can better protect residents and themselves. This is an essential nationwide initiative in the fight against COVID-19.

The program is part of the National Nursing Home COVID-19 Action Network supported by the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) in collaboration with the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) and Project ECHO. Project ECHO Nevada is participating in the Network as an official training center for nursing homes.This program has six goals:

  • Keep the virus from entering nursing homes.
  • Find out early if residents and staff have been infected.
  • Prevent the spread of the virus to staff, residents, and visitors.
  • Provide safe and appropriate care to residents with mild and asymptomatic cases.
  • Ensure staff have the knowledge, skills, and confidence to implement best-practice safety measures to protect residents and themselves.
  • Reduce social isolation for residents, families, and staff.

To do this, the Network embraces an "all teach, all learn" philosophy in which participants receive education in best practices from renowned experts and learn from their peers. Project ECHO Nevada will lead 16 virtual learning sessions with nursing home teams in simultaneous cohorts. Each Network session is designed to be interactive-to hear from nursing home staff about the challenges they are facing, and provide practical solutions. During each session, nursing home staff will discuss real cases of front-line problems with both experts and their peers. In this way, staff have a chance to share best practices and learn from their peers while benefiting from the guidance of nursing home and quality improvement experts. Each session will include a brief lecture or lesson paired with case presentations and discussion, followed by a Q&A forum.

As a designated training center Project ECHO Nevada, will also provide rapid response mentorship for any nursing home that experiences a sudden increase in COVID-19.

Project ECHO Nevada is recruiting nursing homes interested in participating in this program. The first cohort began Nov. 9, 2020. The expert team includes:

  • Mordechai Lavi, M.D., geriatrician, Project ECHO Nevada Medical Director
  • Steven Matles, MA, UNR Med Environmental Health and Safety Officer
  • Regina Neal, Quality Improvement Coach
  • Mark Pandori, Ph.D., director, Nevada State Public Health Lab, testing and public health expert
  • Steven Phillips, M.D., Nursing Home Medical Director
  • Theresa Watts, Ph.D., MPH, RN, CPH, Nursing Home Infection Prevention Expert

All Medicare- and Medicaid-eligible nursing homes in the area are invited to join this free, voluntary program. The Network will provide a $6,000 stipend to each facility for successful completion of the program and a certificate of completion for participating individuals. Nursing homes interested in participating in the Network or with questions regarding the program may contact the Project ECHO Nevada Team at or visit the Project ECHO website.

About the partnering organizations: 

Project ECHO® (Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes) is a movement to demonopolize knowledge and amplify the capacity to provide best practice care for underserved people all over the world. 

The goal of Project ECHO Nevada is to meet the needs of primary care providers by offering an alternative to costly travel and long waits for patients who need specialty care. By developing the knowledge base of primary care providers through the innovative telehealth consultations offered by Project ECHO, patients in rural and under-served areas benefit from specialty care becoming available locally, and without the cost and time of accessing specialists directly.

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) mission is to produce evidence to make health care safer, higher quality, more accessible, equitable, and affordable, and to work within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and with other partners to make sure that the evidence is understood and used.

The Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) uses improvement science to advance and sustain better outcomes in health and healthcare across the world.

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The University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine, Nevada's first public medical school, is a community-based, research-intensive medical school with a statewide vision for a healthy Nevada. Established in 1969, UNR Med is improving the health and well-being of all Nevadans and their communities through excellence in student education, postgraduate training and clinical care, research with local, national and global impact and a culture of diversity and inclusion.

Released: Monday November 16, 2020 @ 2:00 PM