TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) – Nursing facilities have called for a new national declaration of a COVID-19 public health emergency as they fear the BA.2 variant could cause the resurgence of the virus in the United States
The American Health Care Association and the National Center for Assisted Living said it sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra on Tuesday, March 22. The letter called for an extension to the soon-to-expire public health emergency declaration so that long-term and post-acute care providers can continue to provide efficient and effective care to seniors.
In the letter, AHCA/NCAL President and CEO Mark Parkinson detailed the threat of a resurgence of COVID-19 in the United States due to the BA.2 variant, a variant of the Omicron strain. He also said that nursing facilities have faced unprecedented challenges that the sector has endured as a result of the pandemic.
“It is clear that we are not off the hook yet, and expanding the PHE is essential to ensure states and healthcare providers have the tools and resources to respond to this ongoing global crisis. “, wrote Parkinson.
The organization said the long-term care sector had lost more than 400,000 employees since the start of the pandemic.
Parkinson also explained the impact of labor shortages and financial burdens that have forced providers to rely on temporary staff.
“Caregivers are exhausted after battling this virus for more than two years, and long-term care providers are struggling to compete for workers due to fixed government reimbursement rates… The current situation is unsustainable, and quite simply, we need help.
Additionally, Parkinson called on HHS to prioritize long-term care when distributing resources — like COVID-19 testing and treatment. He said providers have faced ongoing challenges trying to access the supplies needed to respond quickly to outbreaks, even when residents are fully immunized.
“If we have learned anything over the past two years, it is that the elderly are among the most vulnerable to this virus and therefore deserve the utmost support and the highest priority. Our carers have worked tirelessly day after day to protect and support their residents, and they need consistent access to resources during this pandemic and moving forward.
To read the full letter sent to HHS, click HERE.
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