Providers across the country have reported they’ve received faulty personal protective equipment from the federal government. The second largest nursing home association is now calling on Vice President Mike Pence to investigate multiple “failures” regarding PPE distributions. 

“I am asking you to personally investigate mounting evidence that FEMA shipments of PPE are deeply delayed, frequently stocked with useless and expired supplies, and delivered in quantities radically insufficient to help protect older Americans from the deadly coronavirus. Further, nursing homes across the country have not received clear and helpful communications about what to expect and when to expect it,” LeadingAge President and CEO Katie Smith Loan wrote in a four-page letter to Pence Thursday.

She also cited instances where facilities either didn’t receive enough supplies or useless materials. 

Katie Smith Sloan
Katie Smith Sloan

“It is unclear if this is a failure of leadership, logistics, communications or all three. But for older Americans, the coronavirus is still ongoing,” she wrote. 

Long-term care providers recently described receiving gowns that look like tarps with no holes for hands and surgical masks that were too thin, according to CNN. Nursing home giant Genesis HealthCare confirmed that two of its facilities received defective gowns.

“While we are not specifically tracking FEMA shipments of the PPE at the center level, we can provide a few instances where we have had issues with the PPE received,” Genesis spokeswoman Lori Mayer told the news organization. She added the company was grateful for the PPE it received. 

“We are not aware of other issues other than the reality that a one-week supply is obviously not enough given the complexity of the virus which continues to impact nursing homes,” Mayer added. 

A Washington official also described the supplies as “unusable” and “not suitable for nursing homes or for any other healthcare setting,” according to the report. 

The Trump Administration in April announced that the Federal Emergency Management Agency would send two weeks’ worth of PPE supplies to every nursing home across the country before July 1 following calls from several major long-term care groups.

FEMA said all of the PPE delivered met standards set by the Food and Drug Administration andAssociation for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation. 

“The AAMI-approved gowns came with instructions from the manufacturers. However, due to concerns from those who received them, the contractor is working on a short instructional video about proper use of these gowns which will be shared with the nursing homes,” FEMA told CNN. 

In other coronavirus-related news, the nation’s largest nursing home association urged long-term care providers to be prioritized for much-needed staffing and PPE resources in order to prevent the future spread of COVID-19 in facilities. 

“Our greatest challenge remains lack of widespread testing, adequate [PPE] and staffing support,” Mark Parkinson, president and CEO of the American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living, said. “We appreciate the renewed focus in prioritizing testing and PPE for nursing homes and assisted living communities, but more must be done. Lack of proper funding for these critical supplies puts our caregivers and the residents they care for at a severe disadvantage.” 

Parkinson issued the comments following a hearing regarding the pandemic’s impact on nursing homes held by the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis Thursday. Several witnesses criticized the lack of investment in staffing and equipment for nursing homes which helped exacerbate the crisis in long-term care facilities. 

“It’s not too late to make improvements. The health and well-being of our residents and caregivers will always be our highest priority, and we look forward to continuing to work with lawmakers to help meet these critical needs,” Parkinson added.