1 in 5 nursing homes have had severe PPE shortages during pandemic, study finds

More than 1 in 5 nursing homes have reported severe shortages of both staff and personal protective equipment since the start of the pandemic, according to a new study published Aug. 20 in Health Affairs

Though there is little national data available about the state of PPE in nursing homes, the Health Affairs study, which was conducted by researchers from New York and Boston, includes results from a new national database that contains information from 98 percent of U.S. nursing homes. 

The researchers found that the rates of PPE and staff shortages didn't meaningfully improve between May and July and facilities with COVID-19 cases among residents and staff and those that serve more Medicaid recipients were more likely to report shortages. 

By the end of July, more than 60,000 deaths occurred in U.S. nursing homes and other long-term care facilities, which accounted for nearly half of all COVID-19 deaths nationwide, the study said. More than 760 nursing home staff members have died from the virus as of July 26. 

PPE shortages have led to the use of lower-grade equipment or reuse of supplies in both COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 patients. Many nursing homes reported they didn't receive adequate PPE through the government's initiative to supply two weeks of PPE to all nursing homes in May, the study said. 

The researchers concluded that policies aimed at providing PPE to nursing homes, particularly those in areas with rising community COVID-19 case rates, are needed to reduce the national death toll. 

Find the full study here

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