The Federal Emergency Management Agency has spent $134 million to supply nursing homes across the country with 14-day supplies of personal protective equipment, but nursing homes say the shipments have included faulty and unusable equipment, The New York Times reported.
FEMA struck a deal in May with a private contractor, the Federal Resources Supply Co., to provide PPE to 15,000 nonprofit nursing homes. The first shipment was delivered in mid-June, and the second is expected by early August.
Nursing homes that have received shipments from FEMA told the Times they have included expired surgical masks, isolation gowns that resemble large trash bags, loose masks stuffed into unmarked plastic bags, surgical masks made from underwear fabric and plastic isolation gowns with no hand openings.
None of the shipments have included functional N95 masks, the Times reported.
Health regulators in California have advised nursing homes not to use the isolation gowns sent by FEMA, saying they present an infection control risk.
“People hate to complain about personal protective equipment they’re getting for free, but many of these items are just useless,” Brendan Williams, president of the New Hampshire Health Care Association, told the Times.
FEMA told the Times it has addressed the complaints about the first shipment and asked Federal Resources Supply to replace the isolation gowns with “models more familiar to medical personnel.”
But FEMA maintains the initial shipment met federal and industry standards and said it received complaints about less than 1 percent of the total PPE shipments it sent to nursing homes.
FEMA hasn’t said if it plans to ship nursing homes more PPE, but CMS said earlier this month it would supply every adult care facility in the country with rapid, point-of-care tests, according to the Times.
COVID-19 infections at long-term care centers in hot spot states have increased by 18 percent since late June, according to an analysis from the Kaiser Family Foundation. A New York Times analysis found that more than 40 percent of all COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. have been tied to nursing homes.
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