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Jan 5, 2021

Introducing the AHRQ ECHO National Nursing Home COVID-19 Action Network 

"The goal of the COVID-19 Action Network is to collaboratively advance improvements in COVID-19 prevention and infection management.” Alice Bonner, Ph.D., RN

Covid-19 exacerbated nursing homes' conditions; everyone was taken aback and did not anticipate the virus's overwhelming spread. It brought unprecedented challenges to nursing homes, considering older adults and immunocompromised patients are more vulnerable to the virus.  

With that, the call for nursing homes to adapt changes in administering care amidst the pandemic is necessary and urgent. 

In this episode, Alice Bonner will share with you what the Covid-19 Action Network is doing to advance improvements in COVID-19 prevention and infection management in nursing homes during this pandemic. Discover how they are actively recruiting training centers (health systems) and nursing homes worldwide to join in on promoting health and well-being of residents and staff. 

Part One of 'National Nursing Home COVID-19 Action Network’ 

What Is Covid-19 Action Network All About?

Alice Bonner is a senior adviser for the aging at the Institute for Health Care Improvement (IHI) in Boston, Massachusetts, and is also an adjunct faculty at Johns Hopkins University.  

With her expertise in the field, Alice Bonner in collaboration with IHI and Project ECHO and with the support from the CARES Act Provider Relief Fund for Nursing Homes, and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) launched the COVID-19 Action Network. 

“Supported by the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) and in collaboration with the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI), Project ECHO is launching a National Nursing Home COVID-19 Action Network.” -Alice Bonner, Ph.D., RN

What Are The Goals Of the Covid-19 Action Network?

The Covid-19 Action Network program aims to promote the health and well-being of nursing home residents and staff.  Towards that end, they've been recruiting Training Centers to provide interactive training to nursing home staff.  The primary goal of which is to advance improvements in COVID-19 prevention and infection control. 

Specifically, the program implement evidence-based best practices to help nursing homes; 

  • Keep the  Coronavirus out. 
  • Identify residents and staff who have been infected with the virus early.
  • Prevent the spread of the virus among staff, residents, and visitors. 
  • Provide safe, appropriate care to residents with mild and asymptomatic cases. 
  • Ensure staff practice safety measures to protect residents and themselves. 
  • Reduce social isolation for residents, families, and staff.

Part Two of 'National Nursing Home COVID-19 Action Network’ 

How Are The Covid-19 Action Network Goals Achieved?

Alice highlighted that Covid-19 Action Network is not a model where a bunch of experts swoop in and say, "We're going to do all these webinars and give you all this important information." Instead, it's an all teach and all learn style of interacting among nursing homes. 

Thus, to achieve their goals, the collaborators walked the extra mile to; 

  • Provide no-cost training and mentorship to thousands of nursing homes nationwide.
  • Create a virtual learning community where nursing home staff can learn from experts and each other to expand the use of proven best practices.

The COVID-19 Action Network's Approach 

The team comes up with a COVID-19 Action Network's Approach, which includes weekly sessions over 16 weeks. The virtual sessions are in concise presentation coupled with case-based learning and discussion. Essentially, these sessions are facilitated by small interprofessional teams of subject matter and quality improvement experts. 

On top of that, there will be a sharing of best practices that nursing home staff can implement immediately. Furthermore, the sessions follow a standardized curriculum updated regularly to reflect new evidence and best practices. 

The highlights of the curriculum are;

  • PPE current practices
  • Infection management practices
  • COVID-19 testing
  • Clinical management of asymptomatic and mild cases
  • Minimizing the spread of COVID-19
  • Managing social isolation

"What nursing home staff need is the skill set of how to talk with families, how to think about the questions to ask, and how actually to improve systems of care and workflow." — Alice Bonner, Ph.D., RN

Why Should Nursing Homes Participate?

Alice believes that nursing home staff are stretched and strained because of the pandemic.  Project ECHO and Covid-19 Action Network inspires and motivates people who work in long-term care to take charge and be the champions and be the leaders. 

They're encouraged to participate so they can gain practical information, skills, and resources to deal with the prevention and management of the Coronavirus. In joining the program, they'll be a part of a virtual learning community of specialists and peers. 

Plus, the good thing about it is that participation is free and voluntary. Moreover, nursing homes that participate will receive $6,000 to compensate for staff time.

Nursing homes can join through their local training center or by using The Project Echo form through January 2021. If you have enrolled with a training center, there is no need to fill out our form. 

Nursing homes, sign up here if you haven’t already enrolled with a Training Center:

Questions? Email Alice Bonner:

Resources Mentioned In Podcast:



About Melissa Batchelor, Ph.D., RN, FNP, FAAN:

I earned my Bachelor of Science in Nursing ('96) and Master of Science in Nursing ('00) as a Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) from the University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW) School of Nursing (SON). I genuinely enjoy working with the complex medical needs of older adults. I worked full-time for five years as FNP in geriatric primary care across many long-term care settings (skilled nursing homes, assisted living, home, and office visits), then transitioned into academic nursing in 2005, joining the faculty at UNCW SON as a lecturer. I obtained my Ph.D. in Nursing and a post master's Certificate in Nursing Education from the Medical University of South Carolina College of Nursing ('11) and then joined the faculty at Duke University School of Nursing as an Assistant Professor. My family moved to northern Virginia in 2015 and led to me joining the faculty at George Washington University (GW) School of Nursing in 2018 as a (tenured) Associate Professor, where I am also the Director of the GW Center for Aging, Health, and Humanities. Find out more about her work at