As the countdown rapidly approaches our #StrikeForOurLives Friday, May 8th, there are major developments to report, including this letter below from Illinois State Senators; our new digital ad about why we’re striking to protect our residents and co-workers’ lives; and new federal legislation to protect nursing homes with greater accountability and resources to fight the Covid-19 pandemic — scroll below.
21 State Senators wrote the Illinois Department of Health asking the department to provide information specifically about the 64 nursing homes whose workers are preparing to go on the #StrikeForOurLives, writing it is “imperative” to get more supplies to these nursing homes to save lives.
“We would like to inquire about the process and distribution levels of PPE to the 64 nursing homes that received strike notices. Can you please advise how much PPE has been requested to these nursing homes, how nursing homes are chosen to receive PPE, and how much PPE these nursing homes have received since the start of this outbreak. It is imperative we get more supplies to these facilities as soon as possible in order to save lives.”
Check out the New Nursing Home Ad
And lastly, Congressional leaders, including our very own Illinois champion, Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky, introduced comprehensive legislation, which our SEIU HCII President Greg Kelley spoke at the press event.
PRESS RELEASE: Schakowsky, Booker, Blumenthal, Task Force On Aging And Families Introduce Bicameral, Comprehensive Legislation To Address Covid-19 Crisis In Nursing Homes
May 5, 2020 Press Release
EVANSTON, IL – Today, Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky, a Senior Chief Deputy Whip and Chair of the Energy and Commerce Consumer Protection and Commerce Subcommittee, introduced the Quality Care for Nursing Home Residents and Workers During COVID-19 Act (H.R. 6698). …
But because CMS has yet to implement data collection that Congresswoman Schakowsky and 77 of her colleagues called for April 15, we still do not know the full extent of COVID-19 cases and fatalities among residents or the workers who care for them.
“The COVID-19 crisis in our nation’s nursing homes and long-term care facilities is a national tragedy that demands a comprehensive response. This legislation will finally offer that to the millions of the older Americans, individuals with disabilities, and dedicated workers who rely on nursing homes for their lives and livelihoods,” said Congresswoman Schakowsky. “Over the past several months, we have failed to adequately protect our nation’s nursing homes from COVID-19 thousands of residents and staff have unnecessarily died. I urge all of my colleagues in the House and Senate to support the inclusion of this bill in the next coronavirus relief package.”
Specifically, the Quality Care for Nursing Home Residents and Workers During COVID-19 Act would immediately address our inadequate response to the COVID-19 crisis in our nursing homes by guaranteeing:
- QUALITY OF CARE: Requires facilities to employ a full-time infection preventionist; ensure adequate numbers of staff to assist residents in making weekly “virtual visits;” allow residents the right to return if they leave during the COVID-19 crisis; obtain sign-off from residents or representatives for transfer or discharge
- WORKER SAFETY: Requires facilities to provide comprehensive worker training around COVID-19, sufficient PPE, and at least two weeks of paid sick leave for all employees
- INCREASED TESTING: Requires weekly testing for residents and daily pre-shift testing for staff, or screenings until sufficient tests become available
- TRANSPARENCY: Requires facilities to report COVID-19 cases, including demographic information, all COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 fatalities, PPE available and projected need, staffing and testing data every 24 hours; requires facilities to inform residents, residents, their representatives, and workers within 12 hours of a death or confirmed case; requires CDC and CMS to coordinate to publicly post COVID-19 data online
- STRIKE TEAMS: Authorizes $500 million for states to establish expert strike teams for resident and worker safety to be deployed within 72 hours of 3+ confirmed or suspected COVID-19 cases in a facility
- INFECTION CONTROL: Requires state survey agencies to ensure surveyors have adequate PPE and conduct an inspection within 72 hours if ratio of fatalities to confirmed or suspected COVID-19 cases exceeds 5%
- RESIDENT RIGHTS: Requires CMS to establish criteria for facility to be designated as COVID-19-only, to develop a plan to address complaint surveys that have been paused during the emergency, and to reinstitute pre-pandemic requirements as soon as possible
- IMPROVED CONGREGATE LIVING: Requires the Secretary to issue public recommendations to congregate living facilities outside CMS jurisdiction around virtual visits, worker safety, and infection prevention.