The American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living responds to call for states to provide more covid-19 testing for nursing homes
By Mark Parkinson
The American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL), represents more than 14,000 nursing homes, assisted-living communities, and other long-term care facilities across the country that provide care to approximately five million people each year. The organizations released the following statement in response to comments by Deborah Birx, MD, coordinator of the White House coronavirus task force, and her call for states to prioritize more covid-19 testing for long-term care facilities during White House coronavirus briefings this week.
According to a Washington Post article this week, “one out of 10 nursing homes have publicly reported cases of the coronavirus . . . with a death count that has spiraled into the thousands.”
We’re hearing from our nursing homes and assisted-living communities that have undertaken expanded testing that they are finding a high number of residents and staff who are positive, but without symptoms. Without access to more testing, long-term care providers are at a severe disadvantage in identifying more of these asymptomatic residents and staff. And without more personal protective equipment our staff is at a serious disadvantage in protecting themselves so they can care for the vulnerable population who reside in our facilities.
Plain and simple, whether it’s our federal, state, or local health agencies, long-term care facilities need adequate testing kits and personal protective equipment. And we need them now.
It is time to rally around nursing home and assisted-living residents the same way we have around hospital patients and workers. The profession will continue to work with local, state, and federal health officials to ensure all possible actions are taken to protect our nation’s most vulnerable and our heroes on the front lines. It is time to make America’s long-term care residents a priority.
For more information on the profession’s response, visit www.ahcancal.org/coronavirus.
Mark Parkinson is president and CEO of the American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living.
Featured image: Nursing home resident dons mask to minimize viral exposure. Photo © Robert Kneschke courtesy Dreamstime (ID 176996212).