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Coronavirus In Pennsylvania: Statewide Organization Outlines Plan To Mitigate Spread Of COVID-19 In Nursing Homes

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- In Pennsylvania, more than 60 percent of deaths from coronavirus have been in nursing homes.

The nursing homes are facing challenges mitigating the spread of the virus, and a statewide advocacy organization is outlining what needs to be done.

The Pennsylvania Health Care Association, a statewide advocacy organization for hundreds of facilities, says it is trying to bridge the gap between its long-term care facilities and the government to get providers the help they need.

"That means prioritization for PPE. It means prioritization for testing, it means critical emergency funding," said PHCA President and CEO Zach Shamberg.

However, personal protective equipment has been hard to come by. The equipment is a key piece of gear nursing homes need to stop the spread of COVID-19.

"Long-term care providers seem to be at the back of the line for that PPE, both here in Pa. and really nationally," said Shamberg.

In late March, Shamberg said the PHCA asked Governor Wolf's office for $290 million in emergency funds that would go right to workers at long-term care facilities, but PCHA has yet to receive a response.

What is the PHCA going to do while it waits?

"We rolled out our plan for Pennsylvania. This is the long-term care plan for Pennsylvania and includes that care for a long-term care ambassador. Somebody who's going to be dedicated to serving the epicenter of this virus," said Shamberg.

On top of this, the PHCA is giving people the opportunity to train as a nurse's aide so workers at nursing homes are freed up to spend time where they're needed most, at a patient's bedside.

Gov. Wolf's office issued a statement, saying:

"To date, the commonwealth has received $3.9 billion of its federal allocation of the Coronavirus Relief Fund and guidance from the federal government last week. We plan to work with the legislature to determine the best way to allocate the funds. We appreciate the selfless dedication of those working in our long-term care facilities and have prioritized getting PPE and other supplies to them."

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