Nursing homes, not hospitals, have been the “front line” in the battle against COVID-19, though government officials and others didn’t seem to notice, skilled nursing’s top lobbyist and spokesman declared on a national television interview in April.
“We feel like we’ve been forgotten,” Mark Parkinson, the president and CEO of the American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living, said in a widely publicized CNN interview. “It’s great the way we’ve rallied around the hospitals … [B]ut the front lines are nursing homes. If we don’t stop it in nursing homes, we’re not going to stop it in hospitals. So far, the country just hasn’t figured that out.”
Parkinson said it felt like providers were “fighting this incredible battle with two hands tied behind our back[s].” One “hand” was a lack of masks, while the other was a lack of complete testing. Regulators moved quickly to improve reimbursement and availability for tests not long after Parkinson’s impassioned plea.
It was a month earlier that Parkinson first grabbed the nation’s attention, near the onset of the U.S. novel coronavirus outbreak, when he told the same CNN host, Kate Bolduan, that “COVID-19 is almost a perfect killing machine” for the elderly.