Nursing Homes Continue to Face PPE Shortages and Require Ongoing Support as the Pandemic Lingers

Long term care residents and staff have felt the full brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic. In the first few months of the public health crisis, nursing homes and assisted living communities, like many other health care facilities, grappled with severe personal protective equipment (PPE) shortages. These critical supplies are especially important in long term care settings because their residents are more susceptible to the virus. After months of continued calls for help and support, these facilities were finally able to acquire PPE and other resources to fight off the virus. 

However, with the country in the midst of a significant uptick in COVID-19 cases, many long term care facilities are again without adequate supplies of the most crucial protective gear.

A recent study conducted by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (U.S. PIRG) found that nursing homes are confronting shortages of equipment like masks and gowns. The study found several alarming data points, including:

  • One in five facilities were dangerously low on one or more items, like gloves and hand sanitizer

  • 46 percent of all nursing homes nationwide reported at some point this summer that they didn’t have a one-week supply of at least one type of PPE
 
  • 226,495 nursing home residents in 2,981 nursing homes nationwide were at risk because the homes they resided in had dangerously low supplies of one or more types of PPE

Already, nursing homes in Texas are facing critical shortages. A study found, “More than 20% of nursing homes had less than one-week supply of one or more types of PPE” and “12.7% of nursing homes had a critical shortage of N95 masks.” Texan nursing homes are not alone – facilities all across the country are facing the same problem. 


We can prevent further shortages from happening with more help. We have already seen what support from lawmakers can provide. When Congress and the Administration rallied around long term care facilities earlier this year, facilities were able to replenish their PPE supplies and better protect their residents and staff. We saw cases in these facilities drop and recoveries increase. We are extremely grateful for the support the long term care industry has already received, but we risk taking a step in the wrong direction if the emerging shortages are not addressed.

Janet Snipes, executive director of Holly Heights Care Center in Denver, Colorado recently made this point to CBS Radio. “I do want to emphasize that we appreciate everything that we have received from CMS and from the government and public officials, but we need them to continue to prioritize long term care,” Snipes said. She also made the point that while they have some supplies, such as N-95 masks, they lack different sizes and the resources needed to ensure the masks are properly fitted to the wearer’s face.                                                       

The American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL) continues to call on Congress to provide additional aid to the long term care industry to ensure every facility is equipped to protect their residents and the heroic staff caring for them. AHCA/NCAL also calls upon the private sector to support this effort, asking manufacturers and suppliers to make long term care facilities a priority for supplies. Individuals in these facilities cannot afford to wait any longer for equipment like masks, gloves and hand sanitizer. They need help now.

As the country faces a rise in COVID cases, it’s critical that every nursing home and assisted living community receive the necessary PPE to fight off this deadly virus. We cannot wait for shortages to worsen and cases to rise before we act. We must continue to come together and rally behind the long term care industry – our elderly population depends on it.

ABOUT AHCA/NCAL
The American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL) represents more than 14,000 non-profit and proprietary skilled nursing centers, assisted living communities, sub-acute centers and homes for individuals with intellectual and development disabilities. By delivering solutions for quality care, AHCA/NCAL aims to improve the lives of the millions of frail, elderly and individuals with disabilities who receive long term or post-acute care in our member facilities each day. For more information, please visit www.ahcancal.org or www.ncal.org.