Renaissance Healthcare & Rehabilitation Center’s Medical Director, Dr. Josh Uy, has been selected to be part of Pennsylvania’s Regional Response Health Collaboration Program as a representative for the southeast. Dr. Uy will join with medical professionals from around the state as part of the Governor’s initiative to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.
Nine Pennsylvania hospitals and health systems will receive $175 million to help their local long term care facilities protect residents from the spread of COVID-19.
The money will be used to help the nursing, personal care and assisted living facilities expand their testing capability and use proven best-practices for things such as preventing and tracing infections.
The effort is called the “Regional Response Health Collaboration Program” and directs money to health systems and universities selected for the program. The amount given to each of six regions is based on their concentrations of people living in long term care facilities.
In southcentral Pennsylvania, $22.9 million will go to Penn State. The other recipients are:
- In the southeast, Thomas Jefferson University and the University of Pennsylvania will receive $65.8 million;
- In the northeast, Geisinger Clinic and Lehigh Valley Hospital will receive $24 million;
- In the northcentral region, Geisinger will receive $9.8 million;
- In the southwest, UPMC Community Provider Services will receive $38.9 million;
- In the northwest, LECOM Health and UPMC Community Provider Services will receive $13.6 million.
“Through these collaboratives, long-term care facilities will have a network to learn, respond, and prepare for what is ahead in the fight against COVID-19,” state Secretary of Human Services Teresa Miller said in a news release.
About 75% of Pennsylvania’s nearly 7,000 COVID-19 deaths have involved long term care residents who are highly vulnerable because of age and underlying medical conditions.
Pennsylvania’s long term care facilities have said shortages of staff and supplies have made it hard to control the spread of COVID-19. They have asked for more money to address the crisis, and at times have faulted the level of support from the Gov. Tom Wolf administration, which has made some aid available, and sent the National Guard to help at some facilities. It’s also requiring facilities to regularly test all residents for COVID-19.
Asked for comment following Tuesday’s announcement, Anne Henry of LeadingAge PA, which represents non-profit long term care facilities, said in an email:
“It is too early to tell how this new program will work. We have reached out to DHS to try to obtain additional information. We are concerned that the announcement is likely too late to assist nursing facilities that are still struggling to comply with the order for baseline testing. That said, we are hopeful that it will assist personal care homes and assisted living residences with their baseline testing that must be completed by the end of August.”
“We are also hoping to get a better understanding of how the funding of up to $175 million included in Act 24 might be utilized. We have members with residents that are COVID positives and are testing all residents and staff every week. Fortunately, Medicare pays for most residents – but testing of staff costs thousands of dollars each week and insurance doesn’t usually pay if the employee is asymptomatic.”
Pennsylvania has about 45,000 people living in about 1,200 personal care and assisted living facilities, about 80,000 living in 693 skilled nursing facilities.