Providers are again calling on the federal government to offer additional funding and resources for coronavirus testing to all aging services providers to help them meet new regulations.
Federal “leadership and funding” will be key in helping providers meet newly implemented COVID-19 reporting requirements, along with testing demands necessary for nursing homes in order to eventually reopen, Katie Smith Sloan, LeadingAge president and CEO, urged in a letter to Congress.
“While we support the recommendation, it is irresponsible of federal leaders to tell nursing home providers to ‘talk to your governor’ to supply and pay for testing — it would be equally inappropriate to ask other aging services providers to do the same,” Smith Sloan wrote.
She added that just a few states have pledged to cover the first round of testing, but many are not, and most states are only paying for just round round testing, which the group said is “at best a snapshot in time.”
LeadingAge, along with the Visiting Nurse Associations of American and ElevatingHOME, called on Congress to address several testing requirements, like covering all costs associated with conducting COVID-19 testing — not just the kits — and do so for all aging services providers, not just nursing homes.
The organizations are also requesting that the federal government help cover repeat testing for providers, ensure workers have guaranteed access to personal protective equipment needed to perform testing, require state surveyors to be tested weekly, and establish a fund to cover temporary staff when a regular worker tests positive and must quarantine.
“Testing and ensuring the care and safety of those in congregate care, in fact, protects all members of society. Aging services organizations are vital parts of the communities in which they are located. A community is only as COVID-free as its aging services providers,” the letter states.
In other COVID-19 related news:
• A federal judge ruled Friday that the state of Arizona doesn’t have to publicly reveal the number of coronavirus deaths and cases among nursing homes and other senior care facilities. News organizations had sued to get weekly updates on the information.
• A Georgia nursing home that delayed reporting the hospitalization of six COVID-19 infected workers was the subject of OSHA’s first citation related to the virus’ outbreaks in a workplace. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced Friday that Winder Nursing Inc., which operates a skilled nursing facility in Winder, GA, missed a 24-hour requirement for reporting the hospitalizations by more than two weeks. The citation was dated May 18.
• Illinois public health officials reported Friday that the state’s nursing homes accounted for more than half (52%) of all coronavirus deaths in the state. The data has been criticized for being inconsistently gathered and reported, yet the overall impact of the virus has not been disputed. The Illinois Department of Public Health released data showing 2,747 coronavirus deaths and 17,133 cases in Illinois long-term care facilities.