Georgia’s nursing homes asking for $347 million to help survive COVID-19 pandemic

ATLANTA — A Buckhead nursing home is now sharing its struggles to survive the COVID-19 pandemic.

Channel 2′s Justin Wilfon has found that roughly 3,500 residents of Georgia’s long-term care facilities have now lost their lives to COVID-19.

And now, Georgia’s nursing homes are now asking for big money to help them get through the rest of the pandemic.

Georgia’s nursing homes are asking for $347 million from the American Rescue Plan to fight their way through the pandemic.

“People are afraid they’re not going to admit family to a facility where they can’t come see them,” said Alex Patterson, president of Presbyterian Homes of Georgia.

It’s a fact of life for nearly every nursing home across Georgia. After years of often struggling to find enough beds, many of their beds now sit empty.

“You’re paid on a per-patient, per-day basis and so any bed that’s empty -- a lot like a plane that’s taking off -- doesn’t have any revenue attached to it,” Patterson said.

Like almost every nursing home across the state, some of Patterson’s residents lost their lives to the virus, others moved out.

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He told Wilfon that his facilities and many others now need financial help to pull through.

“Propping us up hopefully through the time when this virus does start to subside,” Patterson said.

That’s why the Georgia Health Care Association, an organization that works on behalf of the state’s nursing homes, is now asking for $347 million from the American Rescue Plan.

“I think many of our members right now would characterize what we face as a profession in crisis,” said Tony Marshall, president of the Georgia Health Care Association.

Marshall said at the start of the pandemic, Georgia’s long-term care facilities had about 34,000 residents. They now have only 29,000.

Marshall said some facilities are going bankrupt and the money would help them survive until more residents return.

“It provides bridge funding to allow us to address shortfalls that exist today, to be able to ensure that we’re able to provide access to care for seniors,” Marshall said.

He told Wilfon that the money will also help nursing homes hire more staff, which has been another big problem.

They hope to know whether they’ll receive this money within the next month.

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