United Helpers CEO says nursing homes in jeopardy of closing without state aid
Wednesday, May 20, 2020 - 1:25 pm

OGDENSBURG -- United Helpers says without financial assistance from the state, the COVID-19 pandemic may lead them to shut down.

“I have spent the last several years proactively communicating our financial concerns to New York State and our elected officials. United Helpers' nursing homes have been underfunded for years with no trend factor increase to our Medicaid rates since 2008. Rural nursing homes are especially challenged due to reimbursement methodologies and several unique market characteristics,” United Helpers CEO Stephen Knight said in an email.

As regions across New York state struggle to meet requirements for reopening, United Helpers says they and other area long-term care providers raced to secure testing supplies in line with the regulations to comply with the latest governor’s executive order.

Gov. Andew Cuomo has ordered that all nursing homes must test each resident and staff member twice per week.

Since mid-March, United Helpers and other providers have continued to respond to rapid-fire directives and newly imposed state mandates, all while developing strategies for coping with a potential outbreak, the organization said in a news release.

“The amount of preparation and planning that has gone on behind the scenes for United Helpers have been staggering,” Knight said. “Although necessary, many of the changes have not been easy for residents or staff members.”

Knight cited the discontinuation of visitation and the struggles of securing a more reliable and sustainable supply chain for PPE as just two examples.

Instead of increased funding and targeted staff support, an approach that neighboring states have adopted, long-term care in New York state “has been noticeably missing from the list of operations receiving financial reimbursement or provisions,” United Helpers said.

“We are seeing across the state and country the lack of funding and support for our most vulnerable,” Knight said. “Although we agree with most of the measures being taken for safety, there is currently no financial relief. The most recent mandate, as an example, will potentially cost upwards of 60K per week for employee testing.”

There are many examples of this occurring across the state. Without increased resources, many of the already fragile operations across the state will be in jeopardy of closing, UH said.

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