Nursing Homes And Long-Term Care Facilities Hit Hard By Lack Of PPE And Staff Support During COVID-19
It’s an issue we featured front and center here at Doppe Mart back in late-April as the Coronavirus took its toll on nursing homes and long-term care facilities across the United States. The culprit that led to nursing homes being one of the heaviest impacted areas along with healthcare professionals and essential workers, was the simple lack of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) supplies, outdated testing kits, and enough staff to support the growing needs from state-to-state.
It’s a crucial concern that continues to plague nursing homes, long-term care facilities, and assisted living communities.
For example, in Pennsylvania, 69% of the deaths from COVID-19 have reportedly been in nursing homes or personal care homes. In Massachusetts, there have been 23,399 reported cases of COVID-19 in nursing homes and long-term care facilities, in addition to 5,086 deaths according to state data. On Long Island, more than 1,600 people in nursing homes are confirmed or presumed to have died of COVID-19. In Ohio, 70 percent of the state’s Coronavirus-related deaths thus far have come from nursing homes. According to one New York Times investigation, 43% of all U.S. deaths attributed to COVID-19 were linked to nursing homes and other long-term care facilities for older adults. As of June 26, the virus had infected more than 282,000 people at some 12,000 facilities and killed more than 54,000 people. State data gathered and analyzed by USA Today showed that more than 40,600 long-term care residents and caregivers have died of COVID-19 over the last three months, making up 35% to 40% of the death toll attributed to the Coronavirus in the United States.
The one common connection from state-to-state while considering the toll the Coronavirus pandemic has had on nursing homes plays on like a broken record: Along with a lack of testing and PPE supplies, nursing homes suffer from a shortages of staff left to combat dangerous conditions that often spiraled out of control. Sadly enough, caregivers at nursing homes say they’ve been left to fend for themselves even with the Coronavirus outbreaks continuing to overwhelm facilities across the country. Overworked, underpaid, and now at risk of contacting Coronavirus, caregivers like those they are taking care of may be unfortunately outmatched.
Earlier this month data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS, the federal agency that regulates nursing homes) revealed that more than 2,100 nursing homes across the country reported they lack a week’s supply of N95 masks, and 2,200 nursing homes said they were running short on gowns. The figures are only more outstanding from there.
According to CMS, more than 2,200 nursing homes reported earlier this month that they lacked an adequate number of nurses, and 2,600 reported a shortage of nursing aides.
For these nursing home and long-term facility residents, many are frail elderly people with weak immune systems who often spend a lot of time either indoors or in shared bedrooms. The daily chances of them avoiding coming in close contact with their caregivers or others within the residential care community population is slim to none. The opportunity to practice social distancing just isn’t a reality.
If we’ve learned anything over the course of the past four months of COVID-19, it’s that lending timely support and planning for the future can help pave the way for preparation and protection for everyone involved. Until then, the lack of PPE and support for caregivers at nursing homes and long-term care facilities remains a crisis that’s gone unaddressed for long enough.