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WNY nursing homes have ‘dangerous shortage’ of protective gear, asking for donations

Elderwood nursing homes

Western New York nursing homes are running short on personal protective equipment amid the COVID-19 pandemic and are now asking for donations.


Elderwood, the region’s largest nursing home chain, in partnership with a New York state nursing home and assisted living facility trade group, made a plea Monday for more respirator and surgical masks, gloves, goggles and hand sanitizer. 


“There is a dangerous shortage of PPE in these healthcare facilities,” said Stephen Hanse, president and CEO of the New York State Health Facilities Association and the New York State Center for Assisted Living, “and in this setting in particular, this equipment provides important two-way protection in terms of restricting the spread of the COVID-19 virus.”


Nursing homes are considered particularly vulnerable. That’s because older adults are at greater risk to become seriously ill from COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the new coronavirus, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


An outbreak in Seattle-area nursing homes has already killed more than 30 residents. Meanwhile, Western New York has already had its first COVID-19 nursing home death, as a resident at Wyoming County Community Hospital’s Skilled Nursing Facility died of the virus Monday. 


There is an international shortage of PPE. The World Health Organization said earlier this month that PPE manufacturing must increase 40% to meet the demand. Eighty-nine million medical masks alone will be needed each month to fight the pandemic.


“I don't believe there's one health care facility that isn't feeling that shortage right now,” Elderwood Chief Nursing Officer Rebecca Littler told WBFO.


Elderwood, which has 17 facilities and over 1,500 residents in Western New York, is working with NYSHFA/NYSCAL to coordinate donations and distribution to all nursing homes in Erie and Niagara counties. 


Donations can be dropped off at Elderwood’s Williamsville office at 1142 Wehrle Drive. Elderwood’s medical transportation division will also pick up supplies as needed. 


Needed supplies include respirator N95 masks; PAPR respirators; surgical masks, no-touch thermometers; gloves; goggles, face shields; gowns; and hand sanitizer.


They’re also in need of cleaning materials, including cleaning/disinfecting supplies, solutions, wipes and bleach bottles. Hanse noted colleges, school districts, construction companies and even municipalities often have the same type of cleaning supplies needed by nursing homes.


Used or partially used items cannot be accepted.


Any organization able to donate can contact Elderwood at 716-250-0062, or via email at Donations@elderwood.com. Drop-offs will be accepted Monday through Friday between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., while pick-ups will be coordinated by appointment.

Tom Dinki joined WBFO in August 2019 to cover issues affecting older adults.