More than 50% of nursing home and assisted living providers are experiencing lab processing problems after testing residents and staff for COVID-19, according to new survey results from the American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living.
“The amount of time it is taking to receive testing results is hurting the ability of long-term facilities to fight the virus. Regular testing of nursing homes and assisted living staff is a vital step in controlling the spread of COVID-19, but is not effective without obtaining timely test results,” Mark Parkinson, AHCA/NCAL president and CEO, said in a statement.
Thirty-four percent of providers also reported that costs were a key barrier when accessing coronavirus testing. Additionally, 22% said they have lacked test kits, 20% have experienced a lack of state/local government support, and 14% reported trouble finding lab companies to process tests.
Providers also said they weren’t getting test results back in a timely manner. Just 3% of respondents said that, on average, they receive their results back the same day, while 10% said they got results back the following day.
Sixty-three percent, however, said that on average it usually takes two to four days to get results back, while 24% said it takes five days or more.
Long-term care providers have been beating the drum for increased testing in facilities since the early days of the pandemic. Now, cost is a factor as facilities try to follow the federal government’s reopening guidelines, which call for baseline testing of residents and staff.
“For nursing homes and assisted living communities to protect residents and staff, we need on-site testing with reliable and rapid results,” Parkinson said. “With a recent uptick in COVID-19 cases among the general population, we are concerned labs will get overwhelmed and receiving results for long term care residents and staff will take even longer to obtain.”