Janet Snipes is the Executive Director of Holly Heights Nursing home in Denver.
“In the very beginning it was just a heart-wrenching rollercoaster,” she said.
For months she and her team have been working to keep staff and residents safe.
“We felt abandoned like we didn’t have PPE, we didn’t have testing, we didn’t have support and slowly those things have come and we have come a long way,” she said.
An increase in COVID-19 cases in Colorado is linked to young people, but the more severe health impact continues to be among the older population. It’s one reason long-term care facilities and nursing homes want to be a priority for resources ahead of a second wave of cases.
From day one, Snipes says getting enough personal protective equipment has been a struggle and they were often left to rely on the community for support.
“All the PPE, we were needing N95 masks, face shields, all came from a construction company,” she said. “It was turning point for us.”
According to the American Health Care Association nursing homes received a little more than 4% of federal funding dedicated to healthcare providers. They say assisted living communities have yet to receive any direct federal aid.
“If we don’t prioritize nursing homes and assisted livings then we can rapidly see the same results we had the first time around,” Snipes said.
As cases start to spike once again, Snipes and industry leaders are calling for more funding, protective gear, rapid testing and eventually priority access to vaccines.
“It’s a different population, and that’s why we need prioritize our residents are very vulnerable,” Snipes said.