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In an age of uncertainty and continuously changing guidelines with COVID-19, Dr. Anna Hicks, a Henderson County geriatrician, and Jimmy Brissie, Henderson County Emergency Operations Center (EOC) Director, helped develop the concept of a strike team model to help mitigate and control COVID-19 outbreaks at long-term care facilities.

The strike team approach is a model that identifies the anticipated personnel, their roles, and needed supplies before a COVID-19 outbreak occurs. The model connects a county’s long-term care facilities (LTCFs) with its EOC and public health department to meet the immediate needs, supplementing with nurses, doctors, hospice teams, and volunteers with medical backgrounds.

To facilitate a regional approach in mitigating outbreaks in LTCFs, Dogwood Health Trust worked with Dr. Hicks and Dr. Chris Parsons, Director of Pardee’s Center for Infectious Diseases to develop an educational video for LTCF staff. Building on the positive reception of the video, as well as Dr. Hick’s first hand experience working the front lines of a COVID-19 outbreak in Hendersonville’s Cherry Springs Village, Dr. Hicks and EOC Director Jimmy Brissie quickly formalized the Strike Team model.

Dogwood knew that the model was a strong tool in the fight against COVID and wanted to ensure regionwide access. Strike Team grants of $5,000 each were available to County EOCs to deploy a strike team model. Suggested strategies included funding on-site mental health professionals, creating procedure manuals or videos for staff, purchase of PPE for clinical staff, and the purchase of equipment for the strike team to use. Dogwood knew the EOCs would know their community needs.

Dogwood also recognized that PPE was a vital component in mitigating outbreaks and offered an additional $5,000 grant to EOCs interested in utilizing additional supplies in their work with LTCFs. To date, Dogwood has provided 13 Strike Team grants and 16 PPE grants to county EOCS in the region.

‘Pre-strike’ strategy promotes readiness when COVID-19 hits

Deploying the Strike Team and PPE grants and supplies to multiple counties in the region enabled many EOCs and facilities to embrace a “pre-strike” strategy, paving the way for readiness should a COVID-19 outbreak occur. County EOCs have the tools and resources needed to proactively establish ongoing communications between long-term care facilities and emergency management services, hospitals, and health departments, thus preventing outbreaks as well as quickly containing them when they hit.

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