April 29, 2020

Caring for nursing home residents during COVID-19 pandemic

Regenstrief Institute research scientist and Indiana University School of Medicine faculty Kathleen Unroe, M.D. MHA, and her team have been instrumental in improving and guiding care for people who live in nursing homes during the COVID-19 pandemic. They have been active on a number of fronts to help protect this population that is particularly vulnerable to the virus.

Dr. Unroe’s company, Probari, which received investments from Regenstrief and the Indiana University Philanthropic Venture Fund, entered a partnership with the Indiana State Department of Health to provide training in 500 nursing home and long-term care facilities across the state. Trained nurses are educating facility staff on infectious disease control and prevention. Dr. Unroe herself is working with residents in nursing homes as well.

In addition, Dr. Unroe has published two papers providing guidance to paid and unpaid caregivers during this challenging time. One paper lists 10 points to enable safe care transitions between nursing homes and emergency departments during the pandemic. A second article provides insight on how COVID-19 is affecting the care of older adults. She also partnered with Indiana University Center for Aging Research at Regenstrief Institute Director Susan Hickman, PhD, to create a video to help nursing home staff engage in advance care planning discussions with residents and their families.

Dr. Unroe’s work and expertise has been referenced in many media outlets, including Kaiser Health News, CNN, Inside Indiana Business, Indiana Public Broadcasting’s All IN podcast and FOX59 in Indianapolis, among many others. Some of the articles have been translated into Spanish. Dr. Unroe was also a guest on the GeriPal podcast.