A trade group that represents West Virginia’s nursing homes and assisted living communities is raising the alarm that the state’s more than 20,000 healthcare workers that work in long-term care facilities may soon run out of personal protective equipment like masks, gloves and gowns.
In a Friday press release, the West Virginia Health Care Association said there are nearly 12,000 people in long-term care facilities, like nursing homes and assisted living facilities across the Mountain State. As the pandemic continues, essential protective gear is becoming harder to find in West Virginia and nationwide.
“We’re starting to see a lot of the supply chains dry up where the facilities and health care providers on the front lines are having difficulty getting new personal protective equipment or PPE,” said West Virginia Health Care Association CEO Martin Wright.
In many states, including West Virginia, nursing homes and other long-term care facilities have been ground zero for COVID-19 outbreaks. Morgantown’s Sundale Nursing Home reports 10 staff, three contractors and 23 patients have contracted the virus. Three patients have died.
Wright praised the response from both citizenswho are donating homemade masks and of the West Virginia National Guard, which is trying to find innovative ways to make and reuse PPE.
“It’s absolutely helpful, and there’s been a tremendous outpouring from communities that have gone to individual facilities and nursing homes and assisted livings and made homemade masks, and it’s heartwarming to see and it definitely has an impact,” he said. “But the bigger issue is there’s greater needs out there statewide that as this continues to go on, in terms of a crisis, we’re going to have to meet those needs.”
Gowns and gloves, for example, are essential equipment in short supply. Wright stressed getting more protective gear is essential to protecting both healthcare workers and residents.
Last week, the Associated Press reported congressional records from the House Committee on Oversight and Reform showed big gaps in the amount of PPE West Virginia requested and what it obtained from the federal government.