Long-term care providers are urging the next administration to prioritize additional resources and relief for providers as coronavirus cases continue to skyrocket at nursing homes.
An analysis by the Associated Press of 20 states where the virus is surging found that weekly cases among nursing homes rose nearly four times — from 1,083 to 4,274 cases — from the end of May to late October, while resident deaths more than doubled from 318 per week to 699 per week during the same period.
Weekly cases among staff members also have also increased from 855 from the end of May to 4,050 by the end of October.
The “nation’s seniors and their caregivers cannot wait until January to bring about the assistance facilities need right now” following the drastic rise in cases, said Mark Parkinson, the leader of the nation’s largest nursing home association. f He called on the federal lawmakers to provide additional relief that includes long-term care during the period of transition between President Trump and President-elect Joe Biden.
“We congratulate President-elect [Joe] Biden and all those elected to Congress. We look forward to working with the new administration and discussing the challenges long term care facilities have faced in recent years, but most especially during the pandemic,” Parkinson, president and CEO of the American Health Care Association, said in a statement.
“We will call on the Biden administration and Congress to help us address the immediate crisis at-hand and ensure that facilities have the resources they need to protect our nation’s most vulnerable. We must also reflect upon the lessons to be learned and welcome a national discussion on how to improve the country’s long term care system for a growing elderly population,” he added.
Experts urged for new panels
LeadingAge added that the organization sees the Biden administration, should it be certified as winning the election, as a good opportunity for the industry and the pandemic response.
“We see good news in the fact that they are moving swiftly to address the pandemic by naming members of a COVID-19 transition advisory board. We’re glad that the group includes experts on some of the issues that impact our members and older adults, such as social isolation and loneliness,” said LeadingAge Senior Vice President Ruth Katz.
“Given the pandemic’s outsized impact on people age 65 and older, we hope additional advisors with expertise in aging, whether gerontologists or researchers, will be added as advisors in coming weeks and months,” Katz added.
She also noted that Biden’s team has already sought input from consumer advocates about issues around nursing homes. The organization pushed for an opportunity to “ensure that nursing homes will continue to be invaluable resources of 24/7 care, and also to find new ways to offer support in key areas such as staffing.”
“There’s a lot of work ahead, and the need for immediate Congressional action to deliver additional financial relief and support for staffing, as well as ongoing access to tests, [personal protective equipment] and supplies continues to be paramount,” Katz said.