Nursing homes to benefit from increase in tests

Capitol Bureau

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – Hundreds of thousands of coronavirus tests coming from the federal government will soon be in Kansas. Previously federal officials sent test machines to many nursing homes in Kansas.

In Topeka, Brewster Place received the equipment in August, along with 600 tests, but they used those up in about three weeks. They bought more themselves, but are now hoping to get additional help.

“At the end of the day it’s all about resources, it’s the test kits themselves, even if we have the money, can we get them, it’s the money to pay for them which is significant, those costs are threatening every organization that I speak to,” said Joe Ewert, CEO of Brewster Place.

Kansas is receiving 870,000 tests to be distributed in the upcoming weeks. They will head to vulnerable populations like schools, prisons, and nursing homes.

“Those tests are going out to facilities based on the county positivity rate, trying to target those higher positive counties,” said Scott Brunner, deputy secretary of hospitals and facilities for the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services.

Many facilities are also trying to deal with the fact that many residents are feeling isolated, and some lawmakers are pushing for a change.

“Their loved ones have told them, ‘I don’t care even if I get it, I want to see you, I want to live my final years with some dignity instead of being isolated from my family,'” said Coldwater Representative Kyle Hoffman.

Some nursing homes are starting to allow visits because they have seen the effect being alone has, but it has to be done safely, including doing it outside.

“There are a lot of parameters and structures to protect both parties. It can be done, and I think it should be done for our residents,” Ewert said.

Brewster Place said the rapid tests they use take about 15 minutes to find the results. They test about 175 people a week. More tests would help ensure visitations are safe.

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