Nursing homes still grappling with critical shortages of PPE

An analysis conducted by the Public Interest Research Group and the Border Group found that about one in five nursing homes still lacks sufficient PPE.

20% of nursing homes at the end of August had a shortage of masks, gowns, gloves, and other equipment needed to protect residents, workers, and visitors from the new coronavirus.  Approximately 226,000 residents of 2,981 nursing homes reported less than a week’s supply of protective equipment such as an N95 respirator, masks, or gowns. 

More recent data show that nursing home equipment supplies improved somewhat as the summer outbreak subsided. Still, representatives from the American Health Care Association and the National Center for Assisted Living believe that the demand for protective equipment is again on the rise, making it difficult for some homes to secure the necessary supplies.

Facilities reporting a shortage of PPE tended to be for-profit and chain-affiliated, with cases of VOC-19 among staff and residents approximately eight percentage points higher than nonprofit facilities. 

Facilities with a five-star score in the Nursing Home Comparison database were less likely to report PPE shortages than one-star facilities.

It’s crucial to control infections and spread in the community, but many staff members, especially the helpers, often have two or more jobs to make ends meet. So it is the facilities that should pay workers enough to work in one place, which will help reduce the transmission of covid in the community.

Harvard Medical School professionals noted in a Washington Post op-ed that nursing home workers now have the most dangerous job in the U.S., and they deserve better.

The reported shortage of PPE in hospitals at the beginning of the pandemic should have been a wake-up call to all care facilities, but there was no same level of mobilization for nursing homes. This pandemic has exacerbated existing problems in long-term care facilities.

Too many nursing homes lack a sufficient minimum supply of PPE to protect against VOC-19 adequately. Some States need to improve the prioritization of nursing home needs as hot spots continue to emerge throughout the US. Unless lawmakers prioritize these shortages, long-term care residents will continue to be at a great disadvantage during the pandemic, concludes the report. 

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