The leader of a major nursing home association accused federal officials of abandoning older Americans in dealing with the coronavirus pandemic in a statement slated to be released Thursday.

“If we do not change course, we risk losing an entire generation of older Americans,” stated LeadingAge President and CEO Katie Smith Sloan in an advance document obtained by McKnight’s Long-Term Care News.

LeadingAge President and CEO Katie Smith Sloan

Our society has let down older Americans, and people are dying because of government inaction,” Smith Sloan said. “All Americans should be angry that our leaders have ignored and abandoned so many of our most vulnerable citizens facing the COVID threat.”

As part of a renewed awareness campaign, Smith Sloan sent letters Wednesday to Vice President Mike Pence and key federal agencies, arguing that the federal government should prioritize input from all aging services providers — not just for-profits — when it comes to providing additional personal protective equipment, testing and other aid during the coronavirus pandemic.

Smith Sloan requested meetings with Pence and leaders at the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency in the letters “to discuss how nonprofit aging services providers can engage with federal agencies in their COVID-19 response.”

“Our members are deeply concerned when they see media reports that HHS, including CMS, and FEMA, are consulting only with for-profit provider associations — leaving millions of people whose health is cared for by thousands of nonprofit providers unrepresented in critical conversations,” Smith Sloan wrote. 

Smith Sloan added that LeadingAge doesn’t believe DHS or FEMA has intentionally overlooked not-for-profit providers but “that’s exactly how it appears to these hardworking, mission-driven providers, who are facing some of the deadliest outbreaks of coronavirus across the country.” 

She added that the organization wants to “ensure that millions of older adults whose care comes outside of nursing homes are not left out.”

“We demand that they ensure that all aging services providers — not just nursing homes — receive meaningful amounts of personal protective equipment (PPE), as well as effective and efficient testing, and a comprehensive approach to supporting older adults and the workers who care for them.”

Adequate protection, testing and medical supplies to care for older Americans must be ensured, she added, or “our communities will be ground zero for a new wave of preventable deaths and illnesses — which will further tax our beleaguered hospitals and health and long-term care care providers.”