The work of nonprofit health and human service organizations with more than 500 employees, including senior living providers, is threatened unless Congress provides more than $102.2 billion in relief in a fourth COVID-19-related emergency funding package, Lutheran Services in America President and CEO Charlotte Haberaecker wrote Wednesday in a letter to members of Congress.

“Without needed resources … during this time of crisis, we will be unable to meet the increasing needs of individuals and communities at their most vulnerable time,” she said. Two-thirds of LSA’s 300 member providers serve older adults as operators of independent living, assisted living, memory care and affordable senior housing communities, nursing homes and providers of home- and community-based services, according to the organization.

Haberaecker called for:

  • $100 billion for grants to senior living communities, skilled nursing facilities, other congregate care settings and HCBS to cover unreimbursed COVID-19-related expenses for labor and training, personal protective equipment and other supplies, and the care of people with COVID-19;
  • $200 million in forgivable loans to support payroll for nonhospital nonprofits for nonprofits with more than 500 employees;
  • 100% reimbursement of the cost of unemployment insurance benefits paid by nonprofits that self-fund those benefits; and
  • $2 billion in funding related to vulnerable youth and children.

“Our 300 health and human service organizations are on the frontlines caring for people while taking extraordinary steps to protect their staff and people served,” she said. “Yet they increasingly struggle with equipment shortages, especially personal protective equipment; severe workforce shortages necessitating hazard pay; declining revenue; and the need to reduce or eliminate needed services. These severe challenges are occurring while our organizations simultaneously face limited cash reserves, decreasing revenue and already tight margins.”

In other coronavirus-related news:

  • Skilled nursing facilities and assisted living communities caring for residents with COVID-19 have seen a 1,064% increase in costs for personal protective equipment since the virus took off in the U.S., reports sister media brand McKnight’s Long-Term Care News, citing an analysis by the Society for Healthcare Organization Procurement Professionals. Supply-and-demand factors, the increased number of items mandated for safety for some facilities, and the call for frequent changes are thought to be the culprits.
  • Los Angeles County public health director Barbara Ferrer, Ph.D., MPH, M.Ed., on Tuesday told families that it would be “perfectly appropriate” to pull loved ones out of long-term care facilities for their safety, the Los Angeles Times reported. Her remarks reportedly were sparked by an outbreak at Kensington in Redondo Beach, an assisted living and memory care community where four people had died and 38 others had tested positive for COVID-19 as of Tuesday. The community, according to the media outlet, said move-outs would be OK for some residents but not advisable for others.
  • Assisted living communities in New York must allow the return of residents who were hospitalized with suspected COVID-19, as long as they don’t have symptoms when they are scheduled for discharge, according to a new state health department mandate issued Tuesday, the Buffalo News reported.
  • The Minnesota Department of Health on Wednesday announced the awarding of $50 million in emergency healthcare grants to almost 350 provider organizations across the state for preparing for and responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. Among the recipients are several senior living communities.
  • The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has issued two separate enforcement memoranda related to the use of respirators by healthcare and non-healthcare employers, including assisted living communities and skilled nursing facilities, according to the American Health Care Association / National Center for Assisted Living.
  • Across Florida, the number of reported COVID-19 cases in assisted living communities and nursing homes has more than quadrupled in the past week, according to the Pensacola News Journal.