Protecting patients and staff in residential treatment centers during exposure to COVID-19: commentary

Kimberly A. Johnson*, Carolyn Keough, Holly Hills, Wouter Vermeer, Rebecca Lengnick-Hall, Moira McNulty, Mark McGovern, Hendricks Brown

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Background: The COVID-19 pandemic has created a crisis in access to addiction treatment. Programs with residential components have been particularly impacted as they try to keep infection from spreading in facilities and contributing to further community spread of the virus. This crisis highlights the ongoing daily trade-offs that organizations must weigh as they balance the risks and benefits of individual patients with those of the group of patients, staff and the community they serve. Main body: The COVID-19 pandemic has forced provider organizations to make individual facility level decisions about how to manage patients who are COVID-19 positive while protecting other patients, staff and the community. While guidance documents from federal, state, and trade groups aimed to support such decision making, they often lagged pandemic dynamics, and provided too little detail to translate into front line decision making. In the context of incomplete knowledge to make informed decisions, we present a way to integrate guidelines and local data into the decision process and discuss the ethical dilemmas faced by provider organizations in preventing infections and responding to COVID positive patients or staff. Conclusion and commentary: Provider organizations need decision support on managing the risk of COVID-19 positive patients in their milieu. While useful, guidance documents may not be capable of providing support with the nuance that local data and simulation modeling may be able to provide.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number49
JournalAddiction Science and Clinical Practice
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Clinical Psychology


Dive into the research topics of 'Protecting patients and staff in residential treatment centers during exposure to COVID-19: commentary'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this