(Credit: Texas A&M University College of Engineering)
Four actions would help protect residents and workers at senior living communities from the coronavirus and its omicron variant, Argentum President and CEO James Balda wrote Wednesday in a letter to President Joe Biden.
The association is asking for long-sought financial relief and new supplies of tests and booster shots in anticipation of another round of federal measures to respond to the ongoing pandemic.
Argentum specifically asked the administration to:
- Redirect Provider Relief Fund monies to target assisted living caregivers. Relief already allocated “is only a small fraction compared to many other providers who are not providing 24/7 care on the frontlines of this crisis,” Balda said.
- Distribute a “reliable and consistent supply” of COVID-19 test kits directly to assisted living providers. Some long-term care providers continue to receive tests from the federal government under a program that began in September 2020, but “most assisted living providers no longer receive these tests and existing supplies have been depleted,” Balda said. Tests, he pointed out, can help track and mitigate the spread of the virus, ensure adequate staffing and compliance with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention return-to-work recommendations, and support safe visitation to avoid the detrimental effects of social and physical isolation.
- Renew the Pharmacy Partnership for Long-Term Care so that vaccines (and now boosters) once again can be administered through on-site clinics. The previous federal partnership with Walgreens and CVS Health helped senior living communities achieve a 95.5% resident vaccination rate and an 87.6% staff vaccination rate, Balda said.
- Prioritize senior living for treatments and other supplies, such as monoclonal antibody therapies and N95 respirators or similar facemasks.
Those steps, Balda said, would bring the nation’s resources to bear against a virus that has hit older adults harder than any other segment of the population.
Argentum’s letter comes just one day after the CDC released data showing that more than three-fourths of COVID deaths have been among seniors, including more than a fourth that have been among people aged 85 or more years.
Senior living providers, Balda told Biden, “have been left behind time and again” when it has come to federal relief to meet their financial challenges.
“Through six relief packages and more than $6 trillion in federal spending, senior living residents and their caregivers have not received adequate support to meet the unprecedented challenges they face from this virus,” the CEO wrote. “As your Administration and Congress consider additional federal measures to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, and specifically the recent surge due to the Omicron variant, we implore you to not leave America’s most vulnerable seniors behind again. Please insist that any legislative efforts fully address the needs of our nation’s senior living communities and the nearly two million vulnerable older Americans who call these communities ‘home.’ ”
To read the full text of Balda’s letter, visit https://tinyurl.com/yhdf7pyv.