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AARP Intensifies Push for Plan to Protect Nursing Home Residents and Staff

You can help protect nursing home residents. Woman sitting alone

Washington – Today AARP announced it was ramping up efforts to move Congress to enact a five point plan to prevent further COVID deaths in the nation’s nursing homes. More than 56,000 people living and working in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities have died from the coronavirus, and many states are reporting record numbers of new coronavirus cases.

“What is happening in America’s nursing homes is tragic and a national disgrace. Congress and the Administration must take immediate bipartisan action,” said AARP Executive Vice President and Chief Advocacy & Engagement Officer Nancy LeaMond. “We are strongly urging Congress and the Administration to provide dedicated funding and strong policy to protect the residents of long-term care facilities, paired with transparency and accountability to ensure that funds are being used to save lives.”

In a letter delivered today, LeaMond called on the Senate to include five critical points in the next coronavirus response package:

1. Ensure regular, ongoing testing and adequate personal protective equipment (PPE)

2. Create transparency through daily, public reporting of cases and deaths in facilities, communication with families about discharges and transfers, and funding accountability

3. Require facilities to provide and facilitate virtual visitation

4. Ensure better care for residents through adequate staffing and in-person access to long-term care ombudsmen, and

5. Reject blanket immunity for nursing homes and other long-term care facilities related to COVID-19.

AARP’s campaign will include a significant national television and digital ad blitz telling Congress to act now. In addition, the organization will continue to host tele-town halls and mobilize grassroots activists to contact Congress. AARP members have already sent more than 620,000 messages to members of Congress demanding action.

“We have heard devastating accounts from thousands of families in every corner of the country,” said John Hishta, AARP Senior Vice President of Campaigns. “For the sake of these families, and the residents and staff of long-term care facilities, Congress must act now to save lives. We cannot wait any longer.”

Here in North Carolina, AARP has been working with the Department of Health and Human Services, the General Assembly and the Governor to improve the safety of nursing homes and to make certain that there is transparency when it comes to coronavirus outbreaks. Although the state has provided some nursing home testing, more resources are needed for needs like PPE and ongoing testing for both residents and staff.

Phyllis Burke of Charlotte worries about her 53 year-old son Scott who is in a nursing home for cognitive disabilities. “If my son becomes ill, he can't see a doctor unless the issue relates to his heart or lungs because the facility is in quarantine. He has health issues not related to heart or lungs that could be life-threatening, and I'm afraid he won't be able to see a doctor for these issues.”

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