The nation’s nursing homes have been staggered by the toll of COVID-19 on their frail and elderly residents, as well as staff. But as nursing homes begin focusing on reform and recovery, they also are confronting the fiscal impact of the pandemic.
NJHA’s Center for Health Analytics, Research and Transformation (CHART) surveyed the state’s nursing homes to assess the economic impact of the crisis since March and compiled the findings in the bulletin Nursing Homes Face Economic Upheaval as They Focus on Care and Recovery: The Financial Impact of COVID-19. The results, based on responses from one-third of the state’s nursing homes and extrapolated statewide, reveal:
These findings are reinforced by data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. In a report issued June 7, CMS stated that occupancy rates declined 22% in N.J. nursing homes – the highest median percentage drop in occupancy in the nation – compared to the 4th quarter of 2019. Late in 2019, occupancy in New Jersey was near 83%. It fell to just under 50 % at the peak of the pandemic and, as of June 7, sits at a median of approximately 64%, compared with a national median occupancy of 75%.
“COVID-19 has revealed vulnerabilities in our system of care for our most frail, elderly residents, and this data provides yet another perspective of the challenges facing nursing homes,” said Cathy Bennett, NJHA president and CEO. “Our aim in gathering this data is to inform the discussion as public health, providers, payers, senior advocates and other stakeholders come together and move forward in prioritizing care for the elderly.”
Additional analysis from CHART provides a profile of New Jersey nursing homes and their residents as further insight for stakeholders as they work to address needed reforms for the future. Nursing home residents in New Jersey, for example, have greater prevalence of several key underlying chronic conditions than the national average, including hypertension, diabetes, hyperlipidemia and ischemic heart disease.
“This information is valuable in fully understanding the needs of the people we serve in New Jersey nursing homes,” said Theresa Edelstein, senior vice president of Partnerships Transforming Health at NJHA. “Our elder residents, and the hard-working staff who care for them, must be the focal point as healthcare stakeholders move forward with lessons learned from this pandemic.”
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