The federal government’s point-of-care testing program for nursing homes — outside of a future potential vaccine — could be the “biggest advance” of all in the fight against the coronavirus crisis, according to CareTrust REIT executives.

“This has been the giant missing piece in the infection control puzzle of the nation’s inpatient care facilities,” CareTrust CEO Greg Stapely said during a second-quarter earnings call Friday. Several CareTrust’s facilities are near the top of the federal government’s distribution list to receive the testing supplies. 

“Real-time testing in places where so many of our most susceptible citizens reside should begin saving lots of lives immediately,” Stapely added. 

Regulatory relief, like the suspension of the three-day qualifying stay rule, and stimulus support for skilled nursing providers were also highlighted by leaders of the California-based real estate investment. They added that the government’s response to the pandemic has proven its commitment to the long-term success of the post-acute care industry. 

“That is an undeniable plus in difficult times like these,” Stapely said. “We believe our providers are well-positioned to continue weathering the storm for the near term.”

The company reported that it collected 99.3% of rents due between April and July. Though its skilled nursing occupancy — with the exception of facilities operated by the Ensign Group — dropped 684 basis points ( or 9% decrease) between March and July, its higher margin skilled occupancy increased by 571 basis points (or a 37% increase) over the same period. 

“The additional skilled revenue provides a meaningful, partial offset to the overall occupancy loss and increased expenses associated with COVID,” said Chief Operating Officer Dave Sedgwick. 

“While we don’t necessarily want to project an everything’s fine message — everybody knows everything is not fine — we also don’t want to convey doom and gloom either,” Stapely added. 

Check our sister site McKnight’s Senior Living for additional coverage.