June 23, 2020

Senators Hassan, Warren, Casey, Schumer Call for Answers on Nursing Homes’ Access to Adequate Personal Protective Equipment

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Bob Casey (D-PA), and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) are calling for answers from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) about nursing home and long-term care facility access to personal protective equipment following reports that FEMA is shipping insufficient and defective personal protective equipment to these facilities.

 

“We write today to express our concern about the availability and adequacy of personal protective equipment (PPE) for nursing homes and long-term care facilities in the United States,” wrote the Senators. “As you know, the COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately impacted long-term care facilities, including nursing homes. Recent data show that approximately 40 percent of all COVID-19 deaths in the United States are residents or workers at nursing homes and other long-term care facilities. This is alarming.”

 

The Senators’ letter discusses an earlier announcement that the FEMA made about shipping personal protective equipment to nursing homes. “However, we have heard from constituents who live and work at long-term care facilities that they do not have adequate supplies. Recent public reports also indicate that some of the PPE shipped through FEMA’s recent initiative has been defective, inadequate, and unusable. Additionally, we have questions about how FEMA and the Supply Chain Stabilization Taskforce determine which facilities are eligible for shipments and track the receipt of these shipments to these facilities,” wrote the Senators.

 

The Senators are calling for the FEMA and the Supply Chain Stabilization Taskforce to answer a number of questions about efforts to assess the need for personal protective equipment at nursing homes and long-term care facilities, what facilities have received this equipment, and mechanisms for quality control.

 

The letter is part of Senator Hassan’s ongoing efforts to press the administration on the production and distribution of personal protective equipment. Under pressure from Senator Hassan at a recent hearing, the FEMA agreed to make public a document showing some of the agency’s supply and demand projections. Senator Hassan recently heard from long-term care administrators in New Hampshire about ongoing concerns over access and quality of personal protective equipment.

 

Read the Senators’ letter here or below:

 

Dear Administrator Gaynor:

 

We write today to express our concern about the availability and adequacy of personal protective equipment (PPE) for nursing homes and long-term care facilities in the United States.

 

As you know, the COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately impacted long-term care facilities, including nursing homes. Recent data show that approximately 40 percent of all COVID-19 deaths in the United States are residents or workers at nursing homes and other long-term care facilities. This is alarming.

 

During the June 9th hearing before the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, Rear Admiral John Polowczyk said that the Supply Chain Stabilization Taskforce has made distribution of PPE to nursing homes and other long-term care facilities a top priority. On April 30th, 2020, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced that it would be coordinating shipments of a 14-day supply of PPE to nearly 15,000 nursing homes across the country. However, we have heard from constituents who live and work at long-term care facilities that they do not have adequate supplies. Recent public reports also indicate that some of the PPE shipped through FEMA’s recent initiative has been defective, inadequate, and unusable. Additionally, we have questions about how FEMA and the Supply Chain Stabilization Taskforce determine which facilities are eligible for shipments and track the receipt of these shipments to these facilities.

 

We look forward to continued conversations with and briefings from FEMA and the Supply Chain Stabilization Taskforce as we work to protect our nation’s most vulnerable by ensuring that staff and residents at nursing homes and other long-term care facilities have adequate access to PPE. In addition to our conversations and briefings, we are requesting written answers to the following questions:

 

  1. Are the 14-day supply shipments that FEMA and the Supply Chain Stabilization Taskforce are sending to nursing homes a one-time occurrence, or does FEMA have a long-term plan to distribute PPE to these facilities?

 

  1. What mechanisms for quality control of PPE does FEMA execute before sending shipments to nursing homes and other long-term care facilities?
  2. What feedback has FEMA received from PPE recipients about the quality and quantity of these PPE deliveries?

 

  1. On May 2nd, FEMA announced that it would ship a 14-day supply of PPE to nursing homes including, “more than 11.7 million surgical masks, 53.3 million gloves, more than 1.2 million goggles and other eye protections, and nearly 12.9 million gowns.” Please provide a list of facilities that have received supplies and how much PPE they have received.

 

  1. Has FEMA provided any additional PPE to nursing homes not included in the initiative announced on April 30th? If so, please provide the amount of supplies shipped and the list of facilities that have received these supplies.

 

  1. How does the Supply Chain Stabilization Taskforce project demand for PPE from nursing homes and other long-term care facilities? How are these projections considered in making determinations about which facilities will receive PPE shipments?

 

  1. Since FEMA announced its initiative to ship PPE to nursing homes around the country on April 30th, the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services released its Nursing Home Reopening Recommendations for State and Local Officials. These recommendations include ensuring that nursing home staff have access to adequate PPE before reopening. Has the release of this guidance impacted FEMA’s and the Supply Chain Stabilization Taskforce’s demand projections and distribution planning?

 

  1. Have FEMA and the Supply Chain Stabilization Task Force created any policy guidance or documentation that dictate decision-making about prioritization of PPE distribution? If so, please provide this guidance.

 

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