Courtesy of SEIU 1199
A nursing home worker wearing a garbage bag (Courtesy of SEIU 1199)

HARTFORD, CT — Some nursing home workers have to wear garbage bags when they go into a room with a COVID-19 positive patient. That’s because there are not enough surgical gowns.

Nursing home owners acknowledged Tuesday that surgical gowns were in short supply globally along with other critical personal protective equipment workers need to do their jobs.

Dr. Richard Feifer, senior vice president and chief medical officer at Genesis HealthCare, said and they said they are doing their best to obtain them.

“There is a worldwide shortage,” Feifer said.

He said they are using the same gown for several patients in a row when they typically would be changing gowns for every patient.

Feifer said there have been 35 deaths at Kimberly Hall North in Windsor and he wishes he had an explanation for what happened.

“I wish I could tell you exactly why at that facility they had so many,” Feifer said.

He said it speaks to how much “we don’t know yet about this virus. About how exactly it is so contagious and how to contain it.”

He said there needs to be greater production of PPE.  Fighting over an inadequate supply, he said, is still going to lead to “too losers and many deaths.”

“Production is critical,” he added. “Whether it’s through the Defense Production Act or some other means.”

Paul Liistro, managing partner in three nursing facilities, said you have to order PPE in large lots and you have to send money in advance and not all the PPE you ordered gets delivered.

“Sometimes 50% of it comes, but 100% of your money went,” Liistro added. “You hope the other 50% comes.”

He said everyone in the world is looking for gowns.

Martin Sbriglio, CEO of Ryders Health Management, said the states are picking up as much supply as they can and as a result they are bidding against each other. 

“There’s a bidding war,” Sbriglio said. “The states are buying up as much product as they can. This isn’t the governor’s fault.”

Nursing homes aren’t the only ones vying for PPE.

Barry Simon, president & CEO of Oak Hill, a provider of day and residential services for people with developmental disabilities, said the pandemic has left clients and staff vulnerable.

“This virus doesn’t care whether people live in a nursing home or a hospital or a residential home for people with disabilities,” Simon said. “By the nature of their needs, our residents are among the most vulnerable to the coronavirus. When they get sick, we have limited ability to quarantine and not enough PPE to protect our caregivers.”

He said they have 80 group homes and are only allowed to request PPE on a house-by-house basis for every home with a client that tests positive. Simon said if a staff member tested positive there’s no greater access to PPE.

Gian-Carl Casa, president & CEO of The Alliance, said they are seeking a coordinated effort from the state. He said the state has made progress on distributing PPE, “but it’s very spotty.”

He said they found some people are getting it and some people are not. He said there needs to be a centralized effort for distribution.

“We are continuing to get orders out every day,” Josh Geballe, Gov. Ned Lamont’s chief operating officer, said. “But there are still areas where there are gaps.”

He said there are shortages across the globe of surgical gowns and swabs for testing.

The other problem is testing.

Simon said their staffers are still not considered first responders and are having difficulty obtaining tests if they end up with symptoms or come into contact with someone who is positive.

“Should we not test people who have been exposed?” Simon asked.

Gov. Ned Lamont said the state is currently averaging 2,600 tests per day and expects to increase that amount. He said the state hopes to reach 1.5 million tests by mid-May.

“Testing is so key to us being able to reopen our economy again,” Lamont said.

He said at the moment they are only able to test people who are showing symptoms when 40% of the people who have the virus don’t show any symptoms.

The state is still struggling to get the reagents and the swabs necessary to do the testing.

Lamont said as far as PPE is concerned they got 100,000 N95 masks and 2 million surgical masks they are distributing.

As of Tuesday, there were 20,360 Connecticut residents who have tested positive for the virus and 1,423 have died. Specific data related to nursing home data will be reported on Thursday.

In the meantime, groups like Masks For Heroes have over the last few days delivered 130,000 masks to over 300 nursing homes and another 70,000 to senior housing facilities. The group has delivered more than 600,000 masks to almost every town in the state.

Connecticut COVID-19 Briefing: Tuesday, April 21 – 4 p.m.

Governor Lamont’s COVID-19 briefing for Tuesday is scheduled for 4 p.m.

As of Tuesday, April 21, the state had reported 1,949 patients hospitalized with COVID-19. The state had 20,360 confirmed cases, and 1,423 fatalities associated with the disease. A total of 64,192 patients had been tested.

Posted by CTNewsJunkie on Tuesday, April 21, 2020