Why are nursing home populations so vulnerable, and what can be done to address these vulnerabilities for current and future COVID-19 waves?
COVID-19 presents the greatest challenge in recent memory for the frailest, most vulnerable individuals in the U.S. The fundamentals of skilled nursing facility (SNF) care make them especially susceptible to outbreaks, so they are likely to bear the brunt of current and future COVID-19 waves. In the long run, COVID-19 poses a devastating risk to SNF economic infrastructure, and thus to an essential stream of care provision in the U.S. Despite the threat posed, we have little knowledge about the capacity for SNFs to implement COVID-19 prevention measures now or their ability to be resilient under the threat of future waves. SNFs have many potential vulnerabilities in the COVID-19 pandemic that are poorly understood, including lack of PPE, staffing shortages, and diminished financial resources. Michael Barnett and Yonatan Grad propose to perform a nationally representative survey of SNF executive directors to address this evidence gap. They will measure how SNFs have responded to COVID-19 and the capacity for continued response. These results will inform policy to allocate funds and provide other resources to support implementation and address the critical weaknesses in SNFs’ capacity now and in future waves.