PPE Shortages Create Challenges for LTC

COVID-19

Long term care facilities continue to experience shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE), namely N95 masks. The recently updated guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on how COVID-19 spreads through airborne transmission has compounded this problem. The CDC guidance now suggests that special engineering controls to prevent the infections are required for airborne transmission.   

The CDC recommends that health care personnel who enter a room of a patient with known or suspected COVID-19 should where a NIOSH-approved N95 or equivalent or higher-level respirator (or facemask if a respirator is not available) along with adherence to standard precautions. According to the National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN), you are to document for N-95 respirators. You are not to include KN-95s into the NHSN pathway.   

With updated CDC guidance, providers should review OSHA and CDC Guidance on PPE shortages, including N95 masks. AHCA/NCAL has resources on guidance in consideration of OSHA obligations when PPE is critically low or unavailable. This resource provides steps to take when PPE is low, including N95 respirators.  

For additional information and step-by-step guidance on options if N95 Respirators are unavailable, please see the COVID-19 Recommendations for N95 Resipirator Shortages Based on OSHA and CDC Guidance. It is important to note that when PPE is unavailable, a provider should make every effort to obtain the required PPE and document these efforts. This guidance is applicable to all long term care providers, including assisted living, skilled nursing facilities, and providers serving residents with ID/DD. AHCA/NCAL has provided a template letter that can be edited and used in response to OSHA inquiries regarding PPE shortages.