‘We’re not making money on this' | Nursing homes pushing for funding amid COVID-19 losses

TULSA, Okla. — The nursing home industry is pushing Congress to provide another $100 billion to the Department of Health and Human Services to cover COVID-19 testing and Personal Protective Equipment as facilities across the U.S. continue to suffer during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living says the majority of nursing homes are operating at a loss with 89 percent having a profit margin of three percent or less. Seventy-two percent say they won’t be able to go on the way they have been for another year. Forty percent say they can’t make it another six months.

“We’re not making money on this, we’re not breaking even on this, and we’re not even close to being done," says Kimberly Green, Chief Operating Officer of the Diakonos Group, which runs more than a dozen assisted living and skilled nursing facilities in Oklahoma.

"There are many facilities, many companies that I don’t know how they’re going to make it, and many of us are just praying that there’s more aid coming,” Green says.

Green says the industry was in crisis before the coronavirus pandemic because three-quarters of all residents are on Medicaid which doesn’t cover the cost of their care.

Since then they’ve had to add COVID-19 testing on all staff and residents twice a week -- which is marked up the same way PPE was at the start of the virus crisis.

Green says the “Silver Tsunami” is coming as a large group of Baby Boomers are moving to the age where they’ll move into assisted living in the next three-to-five years, and the threat of facilities closing could make that a problem.

Britton Boethin told FOX23 he can’t imagine if his 76-year-old father couldn’t live at an assisted living facility in east Tulsa and had to be cared for along with his wife and three toddlers.

Boethin’s father struggles with dementia.

“I just imagine the worst-case scenario, if he got the coronavirus, he has several risk factors, it could be really bad for him,” says Boethin.

He says not having face-to-face visits or going for walks each day hurts his father’s mental health, but it’s a sacrifice they’ve had to make.