COVID-19 Has ‘Catapulted’ More Collaborative Relationships Between Nursing Homes, Hospital Systems

The relationship between hospital systems and skilled nursing facilities was shaken by a reactionary attitude at the beginning of the pandemic, where a lot of “missteps” were taken out of a need to protect one’s own patients, Signature HealthCARE chief medical officer Dr. Arif Nazir said.

Now that relationship is a whole lot more collaborative, Nazir added, as both sides of the care continuum work to streamline processes and policies around infection protocols, more accurately define infection post-pandemic and outline best practices for patient transfers.

“I think it has really catapulted our efforts on a better collaboration with other settings, particularly on the acute care side,” noted Nazir. Clinicians at Signature even worked with Kennett Square, Pa.-based Genesis HealthCare on an article detailing how the pandemic “sparked” collaboration among large health care systems, due to publish soon, Nazir said.


Nazir spoke at Skilled Nursing News’ Clinical Executive Summit on Tuesday, along with Sava Senior Care chief nursing officer Tony Costa.

Costa has seen the latter part of the pandemic as an opportunity for a facility to build its reputation with referral sources. If a SNF has high immunization rates, adequate staff numbers and are not under restricted admissions, they’re going to look better in the eyes of their acute care partners.

“It’s a business development opportunity, if you have the ability to admit patients right now and others in your market aren’t because of these barriers we’re seeing out there, that’s an opportunity,” added Costa.


“Everybody was focused on their setting and wanted to do the right thing by their patients,” said Nazir of the first few months into the pandemic and how that affected acute and post-acute care relationships. “That’s pretty natural, right? That’s how humans respond to a crisis. They really want to put the oxygen mask on first before they put the oxygen mask on others.”

While some facilities turned inward to protect their own, others moved to open COVID wings or whole COVID facilities in order to take the inevitable discharges from hospitals looking to free up bed space, ventilators for acute COVID cases.

Costa said Sava’s business development team worked to get dedicated COVID facilities up and running in the early days of the pandemic.

“Early on, we worked closely with several larger health care systems to make that a possibility. I think that was well received,” said Costa. “To this day that’s happening right, we see this [delta] wave that we’re in right now unfortunately it’s coming down, but we’ve had to do the same thing with some hospital systems, maybe not for COVID centers like we did early in the pandemic, but dedicated COVID units, where they can send their COVID patients.”

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