LTC Providers Require More Funding, PPE, Tests as States Weigh Reopening Moves

May 6, 2020

As states weigh how to reopen their economies after locking down to stop the spread of the COVID-19 virus, the long term care profession said skilled nursing and assisted living providers must have additional support in the way of increased funding, supplies of vital personal protective equipment (PPE), and testing of staff, visitors, and residents before facilities can loosen restrictions.

Even though providers, residents, and families all want to return to a sense of normalcy, doing so must not put residents at increased risk, according to long term care advocates.

AMDA -The Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine, said as states and local communities begin to reopen, the residents and employees of post-acute and long term care facilities, along with their families, will wonder when they too will be able to end no-visitor policies, dine together again, and enjoy group activities and routine visits to the salon.

“Residents of post-acute and long term care (PALTC) facilities remain the most vulnerable population during this ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. While some areas in the country have seen a decline in hospital admissions and deaths from COVID-19, other areas continue to see a rise in cases, hospitalizations, and deaths within PALTC,” AMDA said.

Of all deaths reported in the United States, estimates suggest that some 40 percent to 56 percent are nursing home-related, they noted. “Infectious disease experts warn that the country will experience a second wave of the virus this fall, and it is unclear yet if we will be fully prepared for it. In addition, widespread, reliable testing is still not a reality for many PALTC communities, nor is a consistent supply of personal protective equipment for health care workers in long term care,” AMDA said.

Given these factors, the group said the decision to reopen or to relax social distancing efforts within PALTC communities must be made with great caution and on an individual basis, regardless of the status of the surrounding community.

“This critical decision rests with the people most familiar with residents, staff, and resources—the clinical leaders managing the care of the patients and residents in these facilities,” AMDA said.

To do so, medical directors, executive directors, and directors of nursing, along with their regional leadership, should work in collaboration with their local health departments and hospital systems to determine the appropriate time to reopen their nursing homes and assisted living communities to visitors, to relax social distancing policies and PPE requirements, AMDA said.