June 10, 2020
Dear Governor Ducey:
AARP Arizona, on behalf of our over 900,000 members and all older Arizonans, looks forward to continuing to work with you to abate this pandemic. The impact of COVID-19 has been devastating to the residents living in Arizona’s long-term care (LTC) facilities. Recent reports suggest that total number of deaths in facilities account for around 70% of total deaths due to COVID-19 in Arizona. Family members, staff, and especially those residing and receiving care in these facilities have borne the worst of the virus.
As a result of your action, facilities began restricting access in an effort to slow the spread. However, in doing so, Long Term Care Ombudsmen have not been allowed inside facilities to identify, investigate and resolve complaints made by or on behalf of residents in LTC facilities. Just as importantly, family members have not been able to effectively monitor the care their loved ones receive, as a result of facilities closing their doors to the public. Even before the pandemic, there was a shortage of oversight of LTC facilities given the litany of publicly reported incidents at such facilities; the COVID-19 outbreak has simply exacerbated the lack to accountability.
As Arizona begins to open up, residents and their loved ones should be assured that the state is doing everything possible to ensure that they are being treated and cared for with dignity and respect. We strongly encourage the state to take advantage of available federal funding to put more inspectors into LTC facilities. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced new resources available to states on June 1 regarding funding for inspectors:
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) provided additional funding to CMS for necessary survey and certification work related to COVID-19, of which $80 million in new resources will be available for states to increase surveys.
In addition, as your Administration determines how to spend its $1.9 billion from the COVID-19 relief fund that Congress allocated to Arizona as part of the CARES Act, we urge you consider funding to address COVID-19 in nursing homes, as well as in assisted living facilities, and other LTC facilities. This could include funding for personal protective equipment (PPE), testing, staffing, disinfection, telemedicine, communications technology and facilitation of virtual visitation with family members.
Most Arizona residents of LTC facilities live in settings other than nursing homes. For these Arizonans, this funding is imperative to secure adequate PPE. This PPE is critical to their ability to keep their residents and workforce safe and keep COVID from spreading.
Thank you for your time and attention to this issue. As always, we remain ready to help in any way that we can. If you have questions, please contact me via email at email@example.com or Brendon Blake at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dana Marie Kennedy, MSW
Wednesday, Apr 21, 2021 at 11:00am Eastern Time
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