The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) reports that nearly one in five nursing homes in Florida have barely a one-week supply of personal protective equipment, or PPE, such as N95 surgical masks and gowns.
According to the Miami Herald, the federal data released Thursday stated several homes said they had no appropriate protective equipment at all.
Nursing homes have been hit hard during the coronavirus pandemic, accounting for 41% of the nation’s death due to the disease. With states reopening, advocates are concerned that without adequate testing and surveillance, senior residents will once again be the hapless victims of this highly contagious virus.
Kaiser Health News reported that the CMS warned nursing homes should be among the last to reopen and urged “extreme caution.”
“The reality is that too many nursing homes and other aging service providers are still desperately in need of testing and personal protective equipment (PPE), and we don’t know when or if it’s coming,” Katie Smith Sloan, president and CEO of LeadingAge, the association of nonprofit aging services said, according to The Hill.
State management agencies in Florida said that protective equipment had been delivered, but the new data refuted their claim. Jared Moskowitz, state emergency management director, said on May 6 that long-term facilities would have 10 million masks by the time hurricane season started, according to the Herald. Hurricane season started last week and the federal data provided Thursday showed that Moskowitz was off the mark. There are still dire shortages.
The lack of equipment may also complicate a new state rule issued by the Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) that regulates nursing homes. While patients who test positive for COVID-19 are not permitted to return to long-term care, those who are awaiting test results are allowed back as long as the facilities have enough high-grade PPE and isolated rooms.
The AHCA stated “faculty staff should wear an N95 mask or higher-level respirator, eye protection, gloves and gown while caring for the resident while awaiting test results.”
The AHCA has established five nursing homes dedicated exclusively to housing log-term care residents who are suffering from the effects of the virus, and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said the state is planning to open more.
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