A vast majority of healthcare providers are still struggling to find adequate personal protective equipment for workers during the coronavirus crisis. As of Friday afternoon, the pandemic had accounted for more than 11,000 nursing home deaths and more than 50,000 in the U.S. overall, according to various sources. Worldwide, the death toll passed 200,000.
More than 70% of providers have been unable to find sufficient PPE supplies, like masks, gowns and face shields for healthcare workers, the American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living recently revealed.
This syncs directly with the latest McKnight’s Flash Survey (released April 15), which found that 71% of respondents said they were experiencing PPE shortages. In addition, more than 83% of respondents said they were using homemade or reused PPE.
“The reality is that many long term care providers are facing an unprecedented situation that has left them begging for testing, PPE and staffing resources. Just like hospitals, we have called for help. In our case, nobody has listened,” AHCA/NCAL President and CEO Mark Parkinson said in a statement.
“Lack of timely testing in long-term care has forced providers to rely on a symptoms-based approach, which provenly will not prevent the spread of COVID-19,” added Parkinson, who also appeared on Fox News on Friday morning to press providers’ case..
Two months after the coronavirus outbreak hit the United States, nursing homes have seen more than 11,000 deaths during the crisis, the Associated Press reported. That number is a best-guess estimate since not all states report their figures. Providers say they still don’t have enough tests or resources to help control the spread.
Parkinson called for federal and state leaders, particularly in New York, to continue working with long-term care providers during the pandemic.
New York officials recently came under fire for an order — which was denounced by several LTC organizations, including the AHCA — that mandated nursing homes to accept all discharged hospital patients regardless of their COVID-19 status. Providers have stated the order has worsened the disease’s spread in facilities.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), who has characterized the spread of COVID-19 as “fire through dry grass,” nonetheless defended the order Thursday, saying providers “don’t have the right to object.” He added that providers have an ethical and legal obligation to provide adequate care to COVID-19 patients.
“The COVID-19 pandemic in New York and across the country has presented unprecedented challenges for all healthcare providers, especially those caring for an extremely vulnerable population in long term care facilities,” Parkinson said.
“We look forward to continuing to work with Gov. [Cuomo] and his administration, but now is the time for New York’s leaders to rally around long-term care residents and caregivers just as they have appropriately done with hospitals,” he added.
In other coronavirus-related news:
• The Department of Health and Human Services announced that it has allocated another $20 billion to all Medicare providers as part of the coronavirus relief package — following a $30 billion funding release two weeks ago. Providers are expected to receive payment over the next week.
• In addition, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced Sunday that it has suspended its Advance Payment Program to Part B suppliers effective immediately and is reevaluating the amounts that will be paid under its Accelerated Payment Program.
• In lighter news related to COVID-19, a New York Times report offers insight into how family members can play classic board games with nursing home residents while using video conferencing technology.