A survey of National Center for Assisted Living members revealed that a number of people are still facing equipment shortages during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Assisted living facilities have been hit particularly hard by the virus, with a recent report from the Associated Press citing government data confirming that nursing home residents account for nearly 1 in 10 of all the coronavirus cases in the United States and more than a quarter of the deaths.
Between June 10 and June 17, 375 NCAL members shared information regarding their supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) during the pandemic.
Among those members, 53% reported a less than two-week supply of N95 respirator masks and 36% cited a shortage of surgical masks over the same stretch. For the same two-week timeframe, the survey recorded 34% of respondents noting a shortage of face shields, 52% coming up short on gowns and 31% with a less than two-week supply of gloves.
Seven out of 10 assisted living facilities have reached out to state and local officials, according to the survey, and nearly half have solicited donations from the public. More than 70% are reusing PPE in accordance with U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention strategies.
Other findings included the fact that suppliers required large minimum orders, which means small companies lack purchase power. Additionally, more than half of those surveyed said they’ve dealt with suppliers limiting orders, a third say suppliers don’t have any N95 masks, and several have dealt with price gouging, expensive shipping costs and lack of access to disinfectants and hand sanitizer.
“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,” NCAL executive director Scott Tittle said in a news release. “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.
“Our organization has requested $5 billion in emergency funding from the Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) to help pay for PPE supplies as well as expanded testing and additional staffing. Without assistance from federal and state governments, our communities are at a significant disadvantage in protecting our residents and staff from this deadly virus.”