Print Friendly  |  
  • LinkedIn
  • Add to Favorites

 Assisted Living Communities Ask HHS for COVID-19 Help, Support

National association requests $5 billion in federal assistance, similar to help for SNFs, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a letter to the heads of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the nation’s assisted living communities requested $5 billion in federal assistance in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL) wrote to Alex Azar, HHS secretary, and Peter Gaynor, FEMA administrator, to praise their support for the skilled nursing industry, but at the same time “urgently request” aid for assisted living communities fighting COVID-19.
“With initial funding provided for nursing homes, we would like to direct your immediate attention to assisted living communities and urgently request your help and financial support to protect our residents from COVID-19 outbreaks,” said Mark Parkinson, president and chief executive officer of AHCA/NCAL, and Scott Tittle, executive director of NCAL.

They said the more than 42,000 assisted living communities in the United States, serving more than 1 million people, need help and “to date, assisted living communities have not received any direct federal funding, PPE [personal protective equipment], or prioritization for testing (outside of some minimal state support).”
“While much warranted attention has been focused on nursing homes, there has been an alarming number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in assisted living communities reported,” AHCA/NCAL said. “Sadly, many assisted living residents have suffered the same fate as older adults in nursing homes who have contracted the virus. Like nursing homes, our residents are among those most vulnerable to COVID-19, as more than half are above the age of 85, and many are living with underlying health conditions.”

Parkinson and Tittle said the assisted living staff are, like those employed in skilled nursing centers and other health care and congregate settings, are on the frontlines when it comes to preventing the virus from entering facilities and containing it if there is infection.
In that vein, the letter said sssisted living operators are dedicating significant resources right now related to COVID-19 measures, including those imposed by the states that regulate them. These enhanced expenses are due to:
--Hiring additional staff to address workforce shortages;
--Providing overtime and other incentive pay;
--Restricting communal dining, requiring additional dietary staff to administer meals in residents’ rooms;
--Securing critically needed and premium-priced PPE supplies;
--Testing and diagnosing COVID-19 cases;
--Quarantining COVID-19 positive or suspected positive residents;
--Offering enhanced, one-on-one activities and telehealth capabilities during visitor and group activities restrictions;
--Enhanced and more frequent cleaning and disinfecting of the entire facility; and
--Accepting COVID-19-positive residents discharged from hospitals per state requests.
The three critical areas where assisted living communities need support starts with funding, and the request for $5 billion from HHS to pay for staffing, testing, and PPE equipment.
Parkinson and Tittle said disbursements from the COVID-19 Provider Relief Fund should be dedicated to all assisted living communities across the country: to those facilities that have confirmed COVID-19 cases in an effort to help contain the outbreak, as well as funds to prevent an outbreak in nonimpacted facilities.
In facilities that do not have confirmed COVID-19 cases, additional staffing and supplies can help ensure that residents and staff are able to keep the virus out of their buildings. Such funds will be critical to also help prepare providers for any subsequent outbreaks of COVID-19 in long term care facilities, AHCA/NCAL said.
On PPE, the letter asked FEMA to expedite shipments of quality PPE and work with state governments to identify additional supplies for assisted living communities. 
“The lack of available PPE has also put long term care providers at a serious disadvantage in protecting residents and staff, especially given the vulnerable population in assisted living communities,” the letter said.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, these providers have faced similar challenges as other health care and congregate settings in acquiring this equipment, due to its high demand and world supply chain issues.

“As many states reinstitute public gatherings as well as plan guidance on ‘opening up’ long term care facilities to visitation, this is a critical time period to ensure our assisted living communities are equipped to keep COVID-19 out of their buildings,” AHCA/NCAL said.
Facebook.png   Twitter   Linked-In   ProviderTV   Subscribe

Sign In