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Impact of COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on Georgia’s nursing homes. This deadly virus has not only taken a physical and emotional toll on residents and their caregivers, but also created an economic crisis for long term care communities.

Nursing homes were able to remain operational in 2020 thanks to relief funding provided by the federal government through the CARES Act Provider Relief Fund. In order to continue to remain viable to meet the care needs of residents, they need the state to provide emergency relief funding to address increased costs and revenue loss in 2021 and beyond.

Drastic Reductions in Patient Census

Over the course of the COVID-19 public health emergency, total inhouse census in nursing homes has dropped. Georgia went from an overall statewide average of 84.5% of capacity in December 2019 to 72.2% as of July 2021. During the lowest census point during the pandemic, the average total inhouse occupancy in Georgia nursing centers dropped to 69.6%. These drastic reductions in patient census have resulted in more than half a billion dollars in revenue losses for Georgia’s nursing homes. With a decline in elective rehabilitative procedures and seniors deferring care due to fear of COVID-19, many providers are struggling to make ends meet and keep their doors open.

Additional Operational Costs Related to Enhanced Infection Prevention Protocols

Nursing homes have incurred significant additional operational costs related to enhanced infection prevention protocols. Such costs are associated with an increased need for personal protective equipment (PPE), cleaning and cleaning supplies, food and paper products, creation of isolation units, screening of staff and visitors, enhanced technology for reporting, telehealth, etc.

Costs Related to Recruiting and Retaining an Adequate Workforce

Nursing homes have also incurred significant costs associated with recruiting and retaining an adequate workforce. Such costs include staff wage increases, hazard pay, retention bonuses, shift differentials, overtime, hiring and training infection control specialists, staff education on updated policies and procedures, and an overall need for increased staffing to account for caregivers who were unable to work due to illness or to replace those who left the profession completely.

The current financial conditions are not sustainable for our state’s long term care communities, and a number of providers are facing difficult operational decisions including limiting admissions and even closing. Nursing homes have a critical need for relief funding to remain viable to care for their residents.