Nursing Homes & Retirement Centers Continue Dealing with COVID-19
Michelle O'Neill recently talked with Ted Pappas, the CEO of Friendship Manor in Rock Island.
After dealing with the first year of COVID-19, Friendship Manor in Rock Island, and many other nursing homes, worked hard to encourage residents and employees to get vaccinated.
Ted Pappas says that's been successful. The nonprofit is in compliance with Illinois Governor Pritzker's vaccine mandate, with nearly 70% of staff vaccinated and more than 98% of residents vaccinated.
Friendship Manor's most recent report on Guidestar says the financial impact has been devastating -- "a loss of 70,000 dollars per month." And Pappas says the government seems to have completely forgotten nursing homes despite increased regulatory requirements and expenses.
Pappas is also disappointed with the lack of action by local government. The nonprofit has twice requested federal RESCUE funding from the Rock Island city council. But he says, "It went nowhere."
Friendship Manor and its residents have benefitted from therapeutic treatments for COVID-19 such as monoclonal antibodies, and one example is Regeneron. But the government has stopped distributing the drug because studies show it's less effective against the omicron variant.
Pappas says positive COVID tests do not reveal which variant infects residents and staff. So he thinks the drug should be made available to people who test positive and could benefit from the treatment.
The long term care center never stopped ordering personal protective equipment (PPE). But now the CEO says his biggest concern is running out of PPE and COVID-19 tests. Recently, orders for PPE have gone unfulfilled.
Over the past couple of months, the number of Friendship Manor staff and residents who've tested positive for COVID has risen along with the rest of the Quad Cities. And Pappas is concerned about family members and other visitors bringing omicron into the facility. The nonprofit continues to test staff and residents regularly but is unable to require testing for visitors.
Note: WVIK News requested interviews with officials from several other local nursing homes and retirement centers. But Friendship Manor was the only one to respond.
Once a week on Fridays, the Illinois Department of Public Health updates about new COVID-19 cases and deaths at long term health centers. (Click HERE to check facilities by county across the state.)