Image via Facebook Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-Va.)
Image via Facebook

Rep. Abigail Spanberger hosted a telephone town hall Thursday night to directly address the effects of COVID-19 on central Virginia’s seniors and caregivers, making it the fifth town hall she’s hosted since the pandemic began. 

Callers from all across the commonwealth rang in to share their personal experiences with how COVID-19 has changed their lives and to express their concerns on how the pandemic is effecting those who live in assisted living facilities. 

Spanberger stressed that getting up-to-date information and resources to seniors, their caregivers and their loved ones is a main priority. She stated that she’s working hard to secure funding and personal protective equipment to nursing homes and assisted living facilities not only across central Virginia, but nationwide. 

“It is about the care of the patients,” Spanberger said. “It’s also from a public health perspective, with the expectation being that the virus will resurge periodically. The challenges that we’ve seen because of staffing now, it is a challenge that we need to address before we see a potential next wave of this virus.” 

A North Chesterfield caller said they were concerned that the number of reported COVID-19 cases and deaths from central Virginia nursing homes was inaccurate. 

“I’m appalled that this nation has elderly care facilities that are not upfront with the number of cases, the number of fatalities,” said the caller. 

Spanberger explained that under the Centers of Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), nursing homes are now required to report incidences and data related to COVID-19 directly to the Center of Disease Control and Prevention. The interim rule was released on May 1 and the first report was due May 8. 

The congresswoman also addressed people’s concerns with virtual replacements to in-person medical care and consultations, specifically those who may not receive appropriate attention due to their lack of internet. 

“I’m continuing to ensure that telehealth benefits are available, particularly that those who are in Medicare can access telehealth. In order to ensure that I’m advocating for greater internet access for those who want it,” said Spanberger.

She further explained that it is important that medical professionals know and acknowledge that many people don’t have access to the internet and that in some cases people may not want it.