Senators Ask FEMA to Explain Reports of Faulty PPE Shipments to Nursing Homes

Four senators, all Democrats, called on the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to answer questions about reports of faulty personal protective equipment being sent to nursing homes in a Tuesday letter sent to administrator Peter Gaynor.

CNN first reported on the letter, which expressed “concern about the availability and adequacy of PPE for nursing homes and long-term care facilities in the U.S.”

At the end of April, President Trump announced that FEMA would be distributing supplies of masks, gowns, gloves and eye protection to all 15,400 U.S. nursing homes by July 4.

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Gaynor said at the time that FEMA would base the quantities on each SNF’s staffing and PPE usage rates.

But the shipments that came out from the agency came under fire for quality, with masks not rated for medical use and oversized gowns. The reports were so numerous that Katie Smith Sloan, the president and CEO of non-profit nursing home trade group LeadingAge, sent a letter to Vice President Mike Pence calling for an examination of the shipments.

In the June 23 letter to Gaynor, Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire, Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, and Chuck Schumer of New York cited reports describing the equipment as “defective, inadequate and unusable.”

“Additionally, we have questions about how FEMA and the Supply Chain Stabilization Taskforce determine which facilities are eligible for shipments and track the receipt of these shipments to these facilities,” they wrote.

The senators also requested written answers to several questions in addition to conversations and briefings with FEMA and the task force, including:

  • Whether the 14-day supply shipments of PPE to nursing homes were a one-time occurrence or part of a long-term plan of PPE distribution
  • Which facilities received supplies and how much PPE they received
  • Whether FEMA provided “additional PPE to nursing homes not included in the initiative announced on April 30th”
  • How demand for PPE is projected, and how those projections are used in determining which facilities get shipments
  • Whether CMS’s reopening recommendations have impacted the projections and distribution planning

The senators called for responses by July 8, and copied Rear Admiral John Polowczyk of the Supply Chain Stabilization Task Force.

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