PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Coronavirus case counts are creeping up again at nursing homes and longterm care homes across the state.
The increase comes at a time when facilities are asking for more emergency funding.
A shortage of personal protective equipment and a serious lag in test results are two more reasons that our state’s facilities say they need help.
KDKA Investigator Meghan Schiller learned some facilities expect to go under within the next six months if something doesn’t change.
Zach Shamberg, the president and CEO of the Pennsylvania Healthcare Association, says the situation is “dire” and the facilities have a “critical need” for money to keep their doors open.
He thinks labs should be prioritizing the tests for nursing home residents.
“One test only gives you a singular picture in time. You have to do recurring testing so that providers can cohort or create COVID-specific wings or floors in their facilities,” Shamberg said.
But all that testing for residents and staff costs money and takes time.
“Our turn around times for some providers are stretching well beyond one week, and that’s simply not acceptable,” Shamberg said. “Providers can’t sustain $25,000 testing rounds per building.”
Shamberg estimates it to cost $34 million to test every resident and staff member statewide. That is a serious concern, given the updated graph of weekly case averages posted by the Pennsylvania Department of Health. KDKA last reported in early July when he hit a low, and now in mid-August, the cases are increasing again.
Shamberg said community spread is a likely contributor.
“If there are more cases in the community, there certainly is a better likelihood that we’re going to see those cases translate into our long term care facilities,” Shamberg said.
The Pennsylvania Legislature did come up with about $300 million for nursing, assisted living and personal care homes. But that was in late June, and Shamberg said the emergency funding already went to staffing, testing and PPE.