Lack of federal aid forces state to scale back program to help long-term care facilities in Central Pa.

Pennsylvania

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — At the start of the pandemic, the Regional Response Health Collaborative Program was created to support the state’s long-term care facilities. The program ended at the end of the year, but state officials say parts of the program will continue.

The state is using up to $6 million dollars through the Federal Emergency Management Agency to maintain rapid response services, which provides clinical assistance to facilities.

Chapel Pointe, a skilled nursing facility in Carlisle experienced its first outbreak in November and relied on the program.

 “When we’re faced with multiple cases, both of staff and residents simultaneously, there’s not a way we could handle it independently,” said Deborah Sprague, CEO of Chapel Pointe.

One of the main differences moving forward with the program will be the duration and volume of support, which has been scaled back.

“I don’t know that in all instances three-to-five days will be sufficient,” said Keara Klinepeter, special advisor of the Department of Health. We’re certainly willing to consider extreme circumstances, but unfortunately due to the budget limitations that we have, 3-5 days is what we can offer at this time.”

The Department of Human Services says it doesn’t have the funds at the state level to fund the program the way it was initially started and will continue to work with Congress and the incoming Biden Administration to get continued support.

“We are concerned that we’re not able to provide as comprehensive a program, but I do think when you do think about the lives saved aspect, I think that rapid response is the critical piece and that is the piece we’re able to continue,” said Teresa Miller, secretary of the Department of Human Services.

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