New CMS data shows the potential for further PPE shortages and the ongoing crisis within long-term care facilities in West Virginia, Kentucky, Ohio, and across the United States. Union workers and nursing home advocates share their concerns as the COVID19 pandemic continues.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Tuesday, August 11th, 2020
Contact: Anthony Caldwell at (330) 651-2042
COLUMBUS, OHIO – New data from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services highlights shortages in personal protective equipment (PPE) supplies held by nursing homes across Ohio, West Virginia, and Kentucky. The newly released data, which has been reviewed by the American Health Care Association, shows that many nursing home facilities do not have a one-week supply of essential personal protective equipment items, such as N95 masks, surgical masks, and gowns.
“It’s important that nursing home workers have access to personal protective equipment so that they can protect themselves and the residents at the facilities where they work. If nursing home workers contract COVID19 due to shortages or improper PPE, that can put many nursing home workers and residents at-risk and potentially cause further outbreaks,” said Anthony Caldwell, Director of Public Affairs with SEIU District 1199.
As detailed by the American Health Care Association, the CMS data, which was released on July 30th shows the following:
• In Ohio, 15% of nursing homes do not have a one-week supply of N95 masks, 6% of nursing homes do not have a one-week supply of surgical masks, and 9% of nursing homes do not have a one-week supply of gowns.
• In West Virginia, 34% of nursing homes do not have a one-week supply of N95 masks, 32% of nursing homes do not have a one-week supply of surgical masks, and 33% of nursing homes do not have a one-week supply of gowns.
• In Kentucky, 10% of nursing homes do not have a one-week supply of N95 masks, 13% do not have a one-week supply of surgical masks, and 10% do not have a one-week supply of gowns.
In June 2020, a survey by SEIU International, which included members of SEIU District 1199 in West Virginia, Kentucky, and Ohio, showed that over 76% of nursing home workers nationwide believe that not enough is being done to ensure access to personal protective equipment. Furthermore, two health care experts recently concluded in the Washington Post on July 28th that nursing home workers now have the most dangerous job in America due to the COVID19 pandemic.
“Nursing home workers put in long hours for low-wages,” said Sheila Hunter, a nursing home worker and member of SEIU District 1199 in Cleveland. “Without the proper protective equipment, nursing home workers aren’t able to protect themselves or the residents that they care for,” Sheila Hunter concluded.
“Even with the proper PPE, health care workers are still at high-risk,” continued Caldwell. “It is possible that the pandemic could worsen and it is certain to continue this fall and winter. Nursing home workers are calling on actors from all levels of government, nursing home operators, and private industry, to work together to ensure that these vital supplies are available,” Caldwell concluded.