OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Nursing home advocates are calling upon the state to take specific actions to better protect nursing home residents from COVID-19.
Care Providers Oklahoma issued a news release Thursday detailing three key policy areas which they say need to be addressed by state government officials.
“Progress on each front is essential in protecting the health and safety of residents and staff,” the news release states.
Care Providers Oklahoma is calling for the following actions to be taken:
- Increased access to Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). “Like other health care providers, Oklahoma’s nursing homes are running dangerously low on PPE because of the state’s difficulty in obtaining supplies from the national reserve and significant delays in traditional supply channels. In light of Governor Kevin Stitt’s announcement that Oklahoma has received a significant stockpile of PPE from the federal government, Care Providers Oklahoma requests that an appropriate amount of this gear is delivered immediately to skilled nursing facilities, prioritizing those facilities with residents or staff that have tested positive for COVID-19.”
- Reducing the spread of COVID-19 from hospitals to skilled nursing homes by requiring negative tests before hospital discharge. “At this time, patients can be discharged from hospitals to nursing facilities without a completed COVID-19 test. However, a new report by the CDC finds that, in the case of a facility in Seattle, 57 percent of residents who tested positive showed no symptoms but were likely still contagious. The report highlights the need for all hospital patients discharged into nursing homes to demonstrate through testing that they do not have the virus.”
- Creation of intermediate treatment facilities for nursing home residents that test positive for COVID-19. “Currently, a nursing home resident who tests positive for COVID-19 is either treated in the nursing home, where they can expose vulnerable residents and staff to the disease, or treated at a hospital, many of which are already overburdened. Care Providers Oklahoma is asking the state government to help standup transitional facilities to provide treatment for COVID-19 patients outside of hospitals and nursing homes with healthy populations. There are recently closed skilled nursing facilities that could be repurposed as transitional facilities.”
Care Providers Oklahoma and the American Health Care Association are also calling upon the state to provide nursing homes temporary emergency add-on payments to cover employment expenses and the cost of purchasing personal protective equipment (PPE).
“I cannot say enough about our skilled nursing staff, whose actions everyday highlight their bravery, compassion and professionalism,” said Care Providers Oklahoma President and CEO Steven Buck. “Now we need action from the state to ensure these men and women have the equipment they need to be successful. We are requesting these steps so that our elected leaders, agency staff and the public understand exactly what we need to fight this disease. The governor’s decision to utilize the Catastrophic Health Emergency Powers Act today only underscores the need for swift action on these fronts.”