Nursing home association cautions against complacency during pandemic

(The Center Square) – The president of LeadingAge Illinois, the second-largest nursing home association in the country, is warning of complacency during the coronavirus pandemic.

LeadingAge Illinois President Karen Messer said although the rate of infections has flattened in Illinois, the danger to older adults has not passed.

“Our older family members and friends can only be safe as the communities around them,” Messer said. “That is why it’s so important that Illinois and states around the country include clear protections for older adults as we move forward.”

LeadingAge is urging Congress to allocate $100 billion dollars in funding to help nursing homes and other providers to help protect older residents and clients.

“Our national association is trying to get funds primarily to offset the loss of revenues that our members and providers have seen,” said Messer.

Among the key requests in the relief package LeadingAge outlined in a letter to Congress are $1.2 billion for affordable senior housing, a $10 billion federal aging services testing program, access to forgivable loans, and the creation of a bipartisan Congressional Commission on the Future of Aging Services.

LeadingAge also called for support of front line workers with hazard pay, paid sick leave and healthcare coverage, as well as assistance with aggressive recruitment of workers.

Messer said the cost for personal protective equipment, PPE, has skyrocketed for facilities.

“Gowns, previously 80 cents, now $2.70 and going up. Hand sanitizer is a dollar per ounce. They were using huge amounts of that, so they have incurred major expenses,” Messer said.

Messer said for older Americans, the coronavirus threat is not over.

“The good news is that we know what to do,” Messer said. “It’s time to begin.”

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