While many industries have been uniquely impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, one sector that’s been at the center of the global health crisis from day one is healthcare. As a result of the pandemic, healthcare facilities now face heightened exposures, as well as new insurance hurdles.
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“This pandemic fell straight into the lap of every healthcare facility and professional. That came with many challenges, [including] finding enough rooms, equipment, and staff to treat the people that so desperately needed the skill of a highly trained medical staff,” said Hoppy Stauffer, national practice leader – healthcare, at Worldwide Facilities. “These healthcare professionals worked long shifts that would test the stamina of each and every one of them.”
Because of the unprecedented pandemic that started in early 2020, new challenges were facing healthcare facilities, and risk mitigation for these insureds has been critical. A complete change in procedures and protocols, such as the constant wearing of masks, as well as efficient and ongoing sterilization of medical environments, needed to be implemented quickly. In fact, many of these procedures mirrored the already established surgical protocols and were implemented facility-wide, noted Stauffer.
“We saw all healthcare staff wearing masks, face shields, gloves, and gowns, and using hand sanitizer that had more than 60% ethanol or more than 70% Isopropanol,” continued the Worldwide Facilities expert, adding that those entering healthcare facilities had to be wearing masks and have their temperatures taken, with this type of screening happening both inside and outside facilities. Additionally, patients that tested positive had to be immediately separated from those that were negative, and specific staff was dedicated to just treat the COVID-19 positive patients to keep the spread of the virus in check.
Other protocols that were implemented included putting more meticulous care into keeping healthcare facilities as clean and sterile as possible. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines were followed to the letter, and further precautions were taken depending on the type of the healthcare facility. Long-term care homes (LTC) and assisted living facilities (ASFs), were particularly hard-hit by the pandemic due to the fact that their patients were already deemed high risk. To mitigate that, new procedures included containment of the facilities and being vigilant in watching for signs of COVID-19 across the wards. Temperatures at these facilities were taken regularly, as well as staff keeping a close eye on oxygen levels coupled with screening anyone coming into the facility from outside.
Putting in place stringent measures amid the pandemic has been a challenge in and of itself, but additional hurdles have been presented on the insurance coverage side.
“Many of the allied carriers that don’t write large facility business are still arbitrarily putting on a COVID exclusion,” explained Stauffer. “Those that are writing risks that may be considered a ‘hot bed’ of exposure, like hospitals, LTC and ALFs, are a mixed bag of responses. Some are excluding it altogether, and others are trying to keep it within one policy term, which would be a term that overlapped with the COVID pandemic, so they would need to renew with a COVID exclusion going forward. Others are not excluding it at all.”
She also cautioned that as COVID-19 claims start to shake out, carriers’ stances may evolve, and noted that Worldwide Facilities is now seeing a high demand for coverage coming from COVID-19 testing labs. “There are a handful of carriers that will entertain these,” said Stauffer. “We are also seeing a request for excess over the primary policies placed.”
Healthcare insureds looking for coverage in these extraordinary circumstances can rest easy knowing that Worldwide Facilities’ seasoned healthcare experts are on their side, covering every time zone and carrying significant market clout to help agents find solutions for their clients.
Worldwide Facilities handles “everything healthcare,” said Stauffer, “whether it’s a solo medical director, an allied facility, up to a hospital or multi-state assisted living risk … While each risk is asking for similar policy coverage, many have unique exposure or contract requirements that require being creative in putting the deal together to satisfy the client’s needs. Our healthcare team at Worldwide excels at finding viable options for our agent partners.”