We firmly stand with the nursing home and long-term care industry, and recognize their efforts on the frontlines of this crisis.
In the thick of the COVID-19 pandemic, the healthcare heroes in long-term care (LTC) are facing heightened criticism and scrutiny. These characterizations are often short-sighted and lack understanding of the challenges unique to caring for elderly populations.
When the first major outbreak of COVID-19 occurred in a nursing facility in Kirkland, Washington, the LTC industry was immediately put under a microscope. Statistics and anecdotes regarding failures persist, and many of the systemic issues and inadequacies of the entire healthcare system have been exposed. What has not been shared with equal weight is the immediate, concerted effort to innovate, adapt, and improve. As a solution provider for the LTC industry, SRX has been witness to these efforts and is privileged to work with some of the finest nursing home operators in the country. Along with their industry peers, these facilities and their healthcare heroes are fighting just as valiantly for the lives of those most vulnerable as any others in this battle.
Comparisons to hospital systems paint an unfavorable picture. In part because nursing homes do not have the luxury of young, otherwise healthy populations to improve their statistical outcomes. Neither do they have comparable funding or infrastructure. Yet, with all of these limitations, nursing homes are overcoming dire challenges and saving patients who face incredible odds. Patients are experiencing negative outcomes and death across all care environments. Placing undue scrutiny on the LTC industry in the face of an unprecedented pandemic is a negligent attempt to place blame, particularly when most of these facilities are doing everything in their power to provide safe, quality care for their elderly residents.
The typical resident in an LTC facility is already taking an average of 8-12 medications each day for underlying conditions that make them most susceptible to COVID-19: congestive heart failure, diabetes, alzheimers and dementia, COPD, and other respiratory issues to name just a few. As they continue to care for their patients in a very stressful environment, they, like their peers throughout healthcare, are struggling to obtain the personal protective equipment (PPE) needed to sufficiently protect their staff. When staff members themselves fall ill with the virus, facilities are left short-staffed with limited options for recruiting replacements in a timely manner. Combine this with a healthcare system that is now overburdened and no longer accepting patients that would have previously been admitted to a hospital setting, and nursing homes are left with scarce resources and an enormous burden.
We have seen and heard stories of true selflessness from nurses and aides working days on end to care for dying patients. Housekeepers and food workers are continuing to serve facilities while risking their own health. Operators are working together to share supplies, equipment, and staff in order to pull their residents through. Communities are showing support with “thank you” signs, and donating food and supplies to facilities and health workers.
We can and should learn lessons from this incredible moment in history. We can improve processes, better prepare for the future, and find new solutions to mitigate the risk of this happening again. We should continue these endeavors. But now is also the time to pull together and support each other. Now is the time to adequately fund care at these facilities. Now is the time to say thank you. We see you and appreciate your efforts. You are truly healthcare heroes.
We stand with you.
Scott Taylor, CEO