Report: Some Mass. Nursing Homes Still Lacked PPE In August

BOSTON (State House News Service) — A new report measuring personal protective equipment shortages at nursing homes nationwide found that 8 percent were without one or more types of PPE in August.

The report, a U.S. PIRG Education Fund and Frontier Group analysis of data submitted to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services from May through August, said that in August, 226,495 residents were at risk "because they were in homes that were out of or were dangerously low on one or more types of PPE such as N95 masks, gowns or hand sanitizer."

The review included 360 Massachusetts nursing homes. According to MASSPIRG, shortages of eye protection, N95 masks and surgical masks "increased significantly in the first half of July and remained at roughly the same levels through August."

During the week ending Aug. 23, MASSPIRG said, about one in 10 Massachusetts nursing homes had less than a week's supply of N95s, surgical masks, eye protection and gowns, and more than one in 13 had no supply.

"It's unconscionable that we are dealing with any PPE shortages at this point in the pandemic, especially in nursing homes where the most vulnerable are exposed and where the disease can spread quickly in and out of the facilities," MASSPIRG consumer program director Deirdre Cummings said.

The report suggests policy actions to boost PPE availability, including full Defense Production Act implementation and funding for nursing homes in a new COVID-19 relief bill. In a statement from MASSPIRG, Elder Affairs Committee co-chair Rep. Ruth Balser recommended "an exchange to facilitate the purchase of PPE for nursing homes."

Gov. Charlie Baker said two weeks ago that the state has added millions of PPE pieces to its stockpile, and will "have sufficient PPE to support emergency supply needs of health care and human services providers and first responders from now until the end of 2021."

By Katie Lannan, State House News Service

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