A new state order for Pennsylvania’s long-term care facilities mandates all organizations to provide pre-approved personal protective equipment to all staff working directly with COVID-19 positive residents by Aug. 27.
Secretary of Health Rachel Levine issued the order Monday.
While many long-term care facilities have worked diligently against the spread of the virus, she said the order is a response to safety concerns from nurses and staff of facilities across the country.
“The order requires that the necessary steps are in place to deliver a safer environment to continue providing high-quality care during these challenging times,” Levine said in a press release.
As part of the order, facilities must provide respirators, such as N95 masks, to any staff working directly with COVID-19 positive patients. The respirators need to be approved by either the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health or the Food and Drug Administration.
These facilities may find that they won’t be able to comply with the order in just a week’s time thanks to continued shortages in the supply chain that have created gaps in PPE procurement for most health care providers. The shortages have left some independent physicians with only a week’s worth of equipment.
Adam Marles, president and CEO of LeadingAge PA, said the nonprofit trade association supports efforts to protect residents in long-term care facilities, but that state funding doesn’t cover the costs for PPE or Pennsylvania’s testing requirements for facilities.
“We have additional concern that personal care homes and assisted living residences, in particular, will have difficulty complying given they are only just beginning to receive CARES Act funding, and it will likely not be enough to cover universal testing,” he said.
Long-term care providers began receiving CARES Act funding through Act 24 of 2020, signed by Gov. Wolf in June. The Act included $457 million in relief funds for providers of long-term living programs.
Marles added that the Mechanicsburg-based nonprofit will be looking to work forward with the administration and lawmakers to address critical funding needs among its members.