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All of our skilled nursing facilities recently completed a four-month training entitled Project ECHO (Extension of Community Health Outcomes). This innovative program focused upon public/private partnership, bringing providers together with other experts in the field. Topics revolved around the implementation of strategies to keep residents and staff safe during the pandemic.

CJL staff participated as Subject Matter Experts, bringing their own particular areas of expertise to the table and providing valuable insight. By way of background, the ECHO Teleconferencing Model originated at The University of New Mexico in 2003, in an effort to allow community physicians in rural areas a chance to join to together to review treatment modalities for Hepatitis C. With the emergence of COVID-19, there was a very real need to share information. Each cohort of nursing homes met via Zoom for 16 weeks and shared best practices in the fight against Covid-19 with their colleagues. The curriculum was designed by the Institute of Health Information.

All CJL care homes participated in this worthwhile project. Subject Matter Experts included Maria Champa, Senior Director of HR; Betsy Mullen, Chief Operating Officer; Marc Richards, Director of Facilities Engineering; Olga Jose, first graduate of the Trained Nursing Assistant Program; Janice Glick LICSW, Director of Social Work at Brudnick Center for Living; Hannah Sutton-Adam, Doctoral Student; Larissa Lucas, Medical Director of BCL; and Karen Petruccelli, VP Clinical Quality and Education and Cohort Coordinator.

As we celebrate National Nurses Day on May 6 and National Skilled Nursing Care Week from May 9 to May 15, it seems fitting to pay tribute to the significance of Project ECHO. We all know that COVID-19 took an unspeakable toll on nursing homes. The battle to conquer this requires all of our joint resources. Unquestionably, the ECHO project provided an avenue for the sharing of ideas and practices to support nursing homes in this effort.

“For me, the ECHO projected showed the resiliency and strength of the nursing home community in their ability to come together and share the best practices throughout the Covid 19 fight,” said Karen Petruccelli. “It showcased ways to support staff who were so instrumental in caring for the residents entrusted to our care. The effects were realized by residents and staff alike.” Added Petruccelli, “This project reinforced the fact that we are better together than we are apart. Clearly, the isolation we were feeling in one home was felt in all homes. There was some sense of comfort that we were not in this alone.”