After the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government of Costa Rica made it a legal requirement for all elderly care facilities to purchase and stock a minimum amount of PPE to ensure they are equipped to deal with possible infections amongst the residents under their care. No additional government funding was provided to help pay for this large and unbudgeted for expense. At the same time, the financial stability of elderly care facilities across Costa Rica worsened. Economic support from the government’s Social Protection Board fell by +/-25% (amount of support available is directly linked to the profits gained through the National Lottery) and all fundraising activities were cancelled. The fall in income combined with the increase in expenditure on PPE has resulted in the many elderly care facilities falling into considerable debt as a direct result of the pandemic.
The Scheinberg Relief Fund has donated in-kind PPE to 12 care homes for the vulnerable elderly in Guanacaste, Alajuela and San José. In total, 64,200 gloves, 74,800 face masks, 5,325 gowns, 21,500 shoe covers, 72 goggles, 30 thermometers, 144 gallons of sanitiser gel, toilet paper and diapers were distributed in 2020. This donation ensured that each elderly care home had sufficient protective equipment and medical supplies for their 394 residents and 252 employees for at least 3 months. Furthermore, the support ensured that these elderly care homes did not have to divert funds from their core services to cover the cost of essential PPE.
In addition, the Scheinberg Relief Fund provided funds to 8 of the 12 homes. The pandemic not only caused a significant increase in expenses (additional staff, rise in cost of food, equipment and supplies), it also caused a significant drop in income due to the forced cancellation of all fundraising activities and the unexpected reduction in funding received from the Government. The SRF ensured that these care homes started 2021 debt free.