Why So Many Died Of COVID In Nursing Homes

September 16, 2020

To the Editor:

As the editorial noted, nursing homes and assisted living communities did not receive the assistance needed early in the pandemic. Though nursing homes care for one of the most vulnerable populations, the focus remained on hospitals. Lack of access to personal protective equipment and testing was a serious challenge.

However, it’s notable that independent research shows little correlation between outbreaks and quality ranking, ownership structure or staffing levels; instead, outbreaks are tied to spread of the virus in communities.

Longstanding staffing shortages and low Medicaid reimbursement rates have been compounded by the pandemic. Significant Covid-related costs have left many facilities on the brink of closure.

This is a historic challenge, one we must continue to confront together. Many of the issues the editorial identified have been the focus of long-term care providers for years. We hope Congress will now work with us to address them.

Mark Parkinson
The writer is the president and chief executive of American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living.