We’re on the front line of the coronavirus pandemic. The COVID-19 is a previously unidentified virus, which means care providers of all types—including those working at organizations like Stoddard where older adults receive care—are learning about it in real time. And, because public health officials have identified older people as high risk of getting very sick from COVID-19, we are on the front line. Every day we do our part to aggressively prevent and mitigate the spread as we deliver compassionate care under challenging circumstances. Despite our efforts, residents and staff have been impacted by coronavirus.
The pandemic highlights that organizations like ours are a vital component of our public health system. Nursing homes, assisted living, home health, visiting nurses, and other providers of aging services have long played a valuable role in how Americans receive the care they need. For example, organizations like Stoddard collaborate with many other care providers like transitions from hospitals, other nursing homes, transportation, dialysis centers, assisted living, in-home care, interaction with doctors, end-of-life care. As the virus spreads, our role in the public health system is magnified—and should be prioritized.
Aging services providers like Stoddard have distinct and urgent needs in this pandemic. Without Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and testing, we cannot safely orchestrate patient transitions, take care of new or current residents, or protect staff. While we understand these needs are vital in an inpatient setting, there is a major push now to move patients out of hospitals to nursing homes or to home and community-based settings. The lack of resources for aging services is an additional challenge in a health crisis unlike any we’ve seen before. We have appreciated the support of DC Health to obtain testing and PPEs. We need more as this challenge increases.
The coronavirus pandemic exacerbates the well-documented, longstanding workforce shortage in aging services. This healthcare crisis increases our workforce needs. For instance, we need more staff to care for sicker residents, to adhere to regulatory requirements that ban communal meals and mandate enhanced infection control procedures, and to cover open shifts for sick staff or those who can’t report to work or have to make a choice in caring for a family member at home. These strains compound an already challenging workforce environment.
Our business is complex. We don’t have a simple operating structure like, for example, a corner store or neighborhood restaurant. We have multiple sources of revenue, from reimbursements and government funding to private pay, and are working under a range of guidelines and regulations. Rising costs of caring for a full load of patients with a changing case-mix, buying extra PPE and other supplies, losing staff and paying overtime—coupled with decreased revenues—are already causing shortfalls for organizations in aging services.
We are a mission-driven organization with deep roots in our community. Stoddard has served this community faithfully since 1902. The services we provide are fundamental to the lives of the 431 people we serve, their families, and our community. We are driven by a higher moral purpose to serve this population in accordance with our mission. We care deeply about the role we play to provide much- needed care, services and support in people’s lives. We appreciate the outpouring of support from the community we serve during this challenging time. Because we value transparency, we will post regular updates on the site to share the challenges of COVID-19 within our community. Please go to the COVID-19 banner of our webpage to find out how you can be an essential partner and help support our mission.