Long term care leaders ask for Pa. lawmakers’ help to recover from the pandemic

Coronavirus in Pennsylvania

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — Long-term care homes have had a tough year with tens of thousands of seniors across the country dying from coronavirus.

Now leaders in the industry say things are improving, but they need help getting through the rest of this crisis.

Zack Shamberg is the President and CEO of the Pennsylvania Health Care Association.

“This is not over for long-term care providers. It’s not over for our staff and it’s not over for our residents,” Shamberg said. Issues still remain. We need a plan to safely reopen our facilities. “

Now they’re asking state and federal lawmakers for relief money to help them make up for the cost of the crisis.

“It could force providers to close their doors here in Pennsylvania. And if we don’t invest, I do fear that we will not be able to care for our population moving forward,” Shamberg said.

Mark Parkinson is the President and CEO of the American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living, which means he works with long-term care facilities across the country.

He says in addition to funding, these facilities need legislation protecting them from lawsuits.

“It now makes absolutely no sense for these buildings to be faced with scores of lawsuits that would potentially impact their ability to provide quality care moving forward,” Parkinson said.

Another challenge is getting everyone vaccinated. Even though workers at long-term care homes are getting priority access to the shots, not everyone wants one.

Shamberg says among the facilities PHCA represents in Pennsylvania, only around 58% of workers who were offered the vaccine decided to get it.

“A lack of trust even amongst long-care staff even as it relates to the vaccine,” Shamberg said.

He believes part of the solution is educating people on the science behind the shots.

The goal for both leaders is to help long-term care facilities recover. Part of that, they hope, is reopening their doors to vaccinated visitors in the near future.

“I think we’re right now on the precipice of being able to reopen the buildings and it’s just everything to these residents,” Parkinson said.

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