Hawaii nursing homes to get almost $40M in federal funds amid coronavirus crisis

Hawaii nursing homes are expected to receive nearly $ 40 million in federal money to continue operations the coronavirus pandemic.

Funding goes to 39 nursing homes in the islands to cover lost income and expenses related to COVID-19, including personnel and purchasing personal protective equipment, testing and treating patients who develop the disease, said US Senator Brian Schatz (D -Hawaii). in a press release.

“Residents of nursing homes and long-term care facilities are among the most vulnerable groups to COVID-19, so we must make every effort to protect them,” said Schatz, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee. “This new federal funding will provide additional resources to nursing homes in Hawaii to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in these facilities and keep residents and workers safe.”

To date, there has been no outbreak of COVID-19 in local nursing homes, according to the Department of Health.

Certified skilled nursing facilities eligible for funding must have six or more beds and each receive $ 50,000 and an additional $ 2,500 per bed. The funding is part of the $ 175 billion relief fund of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act and the Paycheck Protection Program and the Health Enhancement Act.

Schatz has called on Governor David Ige to step up efforts – including testing – to protect Hawaii residents who live in long-term care facilities and nursing home personnel.

“To date, Hawaii has avoided outbreaks of COVID-19 in nursing homes and long-term care facilities, and I understand that health officials are working with long-term care facilities to prepare for infections and prevent outbreaks. However, additional steps are needed, including drastically extensive testing, to continue to protect these vulnerable residents and the workers at these facilities, “Schatz wrote in a letter to Ige last week. On May 11, the White House recommended that all nursing home residents and staff be tested for COVID-19 within two weeks.

The DOH is in the process of selecting long-term care facilities across the state to check that no cases have been missed, health director Bruce Anderson said during a COVID-19 briefing Thursday. As part of the program, health officials will test staff and possibly nursing home patients.

“It is impractical to think that we can test everyone in those facilities twice a week. We would be talking about thousands upon thousands of tests done every day, ”said Anderson. “Our focus in the future will be on protecting those individuals. We were able to bring PPE – masks, gloves and other supplies – to the long-term care facilities. Fortunately, we have had no outbreaks in our long-term care facilities. We have the luxury of being here in Hawaii to be ahead of the game and we often have that here. ”

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