Iowa nursing homes continue to face challenges amid pandemic

“We have 100 nursing homes that have outbreaks, which is remarkable," Brad Anderson, Iowa State Director of AARP said.
Published: Nov. 16, 2020 at 7:05 PM CST
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COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa (WOWT) - “We have 100 nursing homes that have outbreaks, which is remarkable," Brad Anderson, Iowa State Director of AARP said.

Using data from the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare AARP has created a nursing home COVID-19 dashboard. The organization said Iowa nursing homes continue to show an increase of COVID-19 cases among residents and staff.

“We have to understand it actually undercounts what’s happening long term care facilities as a whole because it doesn’t include assisted living. It only includes nursing homes," Anderson explained.

Anderson said the data also shows that nursing homes in the state are facing a PPE shortage.

“They don’t have an adequate one-week supply of PPE and that’s what defines a shortage," he said.

Samantha Roth, the executive director of Bethany Lutheran Home, said her facility has experienced a shortage of PPE.

“The cost for items has just skyrocketed because supply is lower and demand is higher," Roth explained.

However, she said they have received some help.

“Pottawattamie County Public Health is phenomenal to work with. And they have some resources and they have been able to help us on the PPE side," she Roth explained.

Roth said like other nursing homes, they have not been able to get help with a staffing shortage.

Anderson said 43 percent of Iowa nursing homes are currently experiencing a staffing shortage. He said it’s well above the national average of 28 percent.

“Whether it’s a CNA or an LNP, or an RN. And there are not that many people out there that want that job, especially with that added risk of working in that coronavirus world," Roth said.

Anderson said AARP is urging Iowa officials to come up with a plan to help nursing homes. They are hoping to create a database of direct care workers, and deploy the Iowa National Guard to help with testing.

“This could happen immediately and should happen immediately. And we’ve been in contact with the governor’s office to do that," he said.

Roth said she would also like to see more help from the community. She said to wear a mask, wash your hands, and socially distance.

“Even though they don’t feel like they’re at a high risk themselves just remember that there are people that are at a high risk that need that extra protection," she added.

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