COVID-19 Testing Of Arizona Nursing Home Residents, Staff Underway

Published: Monday, May 18, 2020 - 7:11am

Last week, the head of the Arizona Department of Health Services announced that residents and staff at some long-term care facilities would be tested for the coronavirus. That testing started Friday.

David Voepel is the CEO of the Arizona Health Care Association, which represents several long-term care facilities in the state. He says his organization has been working on a plan to test residents and staff in Medicare- and Medicaid-certified nursing homes since last month. Voepel did not know which facilities would be tested first, but he did provide a clue as to where.

"I know DHS is looking at the various hot spots in the state, so they naturally want to test the facilities in or close to the Navajo Nation and also down in the Tucson-Pima County area," he said.

→ Arizona Not Ready To Allow Visitors In Nursing Homes

AARP of Arizona sent Gov. Doug Ducey a letter on Thursday calling on his administration to be more transparent. Dana Kennedy, state director for AARP Arizona, says she wants the state to release the names of long-term care facilities with confirmed COVID-19 infections, provide more personal protective equipment to facilities and provide coronavirus testing to assisted-living facilities across the state. 

Currently, only Medicare- and Medicaid-certified nursing homes will be tested for the virus. Kennedy says testing should have happened weeks ago.

"We knew this is where the outbreaks were going to happen and we should have started immediately," she said. "Other states have done that and they haven't seen the spread because they were proactive and we were asleep at the wheel."

There are about 2,500 assisted-living facilities in Arizona. There are nearly 150 Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services-certified nursing homes in the state. 

→ Read The Latest News On The Coronavirus Disease 

One Source, My Connection!

Like Arizona Science Desk on Facebook