Recently Reported Shortages in PPE and Staffing are Worrisome as Ohio’s Percentage of COVID-19 Deaths in Nursing Homes Exceeds National Average

Columbus, Ohio – AARP’s Ohio state director, Holly Holtzen, said today that a new AARP dashboard reveals concerning trends in three critical areas linked to how Ohio’s nursing homes are handling the coronavirus pandemic, all of which could provide state officials with insights on how to do better.

“Early on our state took notable steps to curb the virus in our nursing homes. But no state is doing enough to stem the loss of life,” said Holtzen. “As Ohio’s nursing homes resume in-person visitation amidst a surge in reported infections and Governor DeWine’s announcement of a new all-time high for the number of COVID-19 related hospitalizations, this data can shine a light on the areas and issues contributing to the heartbreaking situation in our nursing homes.”

“The fact that nursing home residents account for nearly half of Ohio’s COVID-19 deaths is beyond alarming,” said Holtzen. “To still have PPE shortages in Ohio’s nursing homes eight long months into this crisis is inexcusable.”

Using data from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services— which is self-reported by nursing homes—the AARP Public Policy Institute, in collaboration with the Scripps Gerontology Center at Miami University in Ohio, created the AARP Nursing Home COVID-19 Dashboard to provide four-week snapshots of the virus’ infiltration into nursing homes and impact on nursing home residents and staff. Notably, the first release of the dashboard on October 14 reveals that nursing homes in every state reported shortages of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), ranging from 8 percent of facilities in the best-performing states, to 60 percent in the lowest-performing state. The dashboard also compared state and national data on COVID-19 cases and deaths, staff cases and staffing shortages.

By their own reports, more than 33 percent of Ohio nursing homes reported having less than a week’s worth of PPE on hand over the four week period ending Sept. 20, compared to about 28 percent nationwide.  Some 35 percent of Ohio nursing homes also reported staffing shortages in direct care workers during this period, compared to the national average of 29 percent.

The share of Ohio’s COVID-19 deaths occurring in nursing homes is nearly twice the national average during the four-week reporting period.

The share of Ohio’s COVID-19 deaths occurring in nursing homes is nearly twice the national average during the four-week reporting period. In Ohio, nearly two of every four reported COVID-19 deaths occurred in a nursing home, even though nursing home residents represent less than one percent of the state’s population.

Holtzen also noted that more than half of all Ohio nursing homes have had at least one COVID-19 infection since January.

“The fact that nursing home residents account for nearly half of Ohio’s COVID-19 deaths is beyond alarming,” said Holtzen. “To still have PPE shortages in Ohio’s nursing homes eight long months into this crisis is inexcusable.”

Holtzen renewed AARP Ohio’s call forstepping up efforts to provide all long-term care facilities with adequate supplies of PPE, ensuring proper staffing levels, as well as increased frequency of mandatory and prioritized access to COVID-19 testing and testing results for residents, staff, vendors and visitors in elder-care facilities.

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