During the COVID-19 pandemic, senior living providers have experienced grief, collaborated in heroic efforts, and been challenged continually to ensure safety and health for all in their communities. Two significant difficulties are navigating the often confusing and conflicting guidance issued by regulators and finding urgently needed additional critical care equipment, protective gear, and testing supplies to protect direct-care staff and residents.
As direct-care staff—the heroes of this pandemic—continue to serve our nation’s seniors on the front lines of this crisis, Argentum has been working extensively at the federal and state levels to provide protections of all kinds: physical, economic, and legal.
Argentum’s top priority throughout the pandemic has been supporting our communities, residents, and staff with the resources they need. But this has not been easy, given the nationwide shortage of critical care equipment, and health care access. With resources stretched thin, we’ve grown concerned for what this could mean for staff and residents who suffer negative outcomes.
Many lawmakers quickly enacted measures to protect health care workers, and Argentum led the effort to include senior living in these protections.
At the federal level, Argentum and the American Seniors Housing Association (ASHA) sent a joint letter to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar requesting that senior living be included in the federal Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness (PREP) Act, shielding them from COVID-19-related legal liabilities.
Additionally, we’ve continued to press Congress for expanded legislative protections under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which provides liability protections for volunteer health professionals.
Combining forces with other industry associations, Argentum embarked on an ambitious 50-state initiative, engaging with senior living legal experts to protect providers and staff through executive orders or legislation. Our team helped review, draft, and amend liability protections by turning to our model executive order, which can be tailored to each state’s needs and includes clear guidelines governors and state policymakers may adopt to cover operators and staff.
Protections some states offered did not necessarily include senior living communities. Our efforts in several states, including New York, Illinois, and Connecticut, are aimed at correcting these omissions by providing clear language and emphasizing urgent need. Other states turned to our model and adopted clear protections for all senior living communities and staff.
Several states have reported success stories as a result of these efforts. Among them:
The efforts Argentum, our state partners, and other industry stakeholders are taking now will be critical to our industry’s future and to the future of generations to come.
Direct care staff are going above and beyond to care for our nation’s most vulnerable. While operators have helped support these workers financially and in other ways—such as helping with childcare for those facing unexpected school and daycare closures—among the most important measures we can take now is to protect them and communities from errant lawsuits that could threaten care for millions.
With the rise of the baby boomers and an exponentially growing need for senior care, now is the time to protect this care.
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