Long-term care leaders reflect on one year of the COVID-19 pandemic, provide state of the industry
Harrisburg, Pa. – Today, as part of a series of events to mark one-year of the COVID-19 pandemic, the president and CEO of the Pennsylvania Health Care Association (PHCA) held a joint virtual press conference with the president and CEO of the American Health Care Association and the National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL) to reflect on the impact COVID-19 has had on residents, workers and the long-term care industry statewide and throughout the country.
In order to move forward, both association leaders looked back on the past 12 months to address the challenges and hardships that impacted residents and their families, workers and providers, including personal protective equipment shortages, the workforce and staffing crisis, testing accessibility and visitation. The discussion also included ways the industry was able to meet some of the challenges, such as the creation and incorporation of a temporary nurse aide training program to support workforce needs.
“Throughout this past year, our vulnerable residents –– as well the brave men and women who care for them –– have been at the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Zach Shamberg, president and CEO of PHCA. “We have called for the prioritization of long-term care in the pandemic response and we must remain vigilant to ensure that prioritization becomes a reality moving forward. Anything less for the third-oldest state in the entire country is unacceptable.”
The nursing home industry in the United States is facing an estimated $94 billion projected loss as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. An analysis conducted by AHCA/NCAL reveals that, over a two-year projection period (2020-21), COVID-19 costs –– coupled with a significant drop in revenue –– dramatically impacted providers and may force thousands of facilities to close their doors in 2021.
“While we have made tremendous progress thanks in large part to the vaccines, there is still a long road ahead, and long-term care is facing an economic crisis,” said Mark Parkinson, president and CEO of AHCA/NCAL. “Chronic Medicaid underfunding combined with COVID has pushed many facilities to the brink, and our residents who need round-the-clock care are the ones who are ultimately impacted. Long term care providers must have the necessary resources to continue protecting their residents and staff and keep their doors open for vulnerable seniors and individuals with disabilities.”
In Pennsylvania, nursing homes, assisted living communities and personal care homes collectively spent $96.2 million per week for personal protective equipment in 2020. One-time testing for every worker and resident cost approximately $30 million each week during the early months of the pandemic. Long-term care providers in Pennsylvania are projected to spend approximately $2.7 billion collectively in 2020 and 2021 on costs relative to COVID-19.
“Our aging population continues to grow rapidly,” Shamberg said. “Long-term care is well overdue to receive proper Medicaid funding, as the pandemic exacerbated the existing financial problems. Without the necessary funding, the care of tens of thousands of Pennsylvania’s seniors will be in jeopardy.”
PHCA’s “COVID-19: One Year Later” series continues on Tuesday with a virtual panel discussion that will highlight the supporters and legislative champions of long-term care during the pandemic. Panelists will include state senators Judy Ward and John Yudichak, as well as Harrisburg University Geospatial Technician and student Casey Shearrow, who helped print 3-D face shields for frontline workers in long-term care facilities. The discussion will be streamed on Facebook and YouTube at 11:30 a.m. A panel discussion with long-term care workers and the loved one of a resident kicked off the series and can be viewed here.
Click here to watch and download the virtual press conference.