New research from IUPUI on COVID-19’s impact on the nonprofit sector found that if nonprofit organizations want to find a way forward, they must first look back at how they have weathered the pandemic thus far. While the past 15 months have been a challenge for every sector, IUPUI assistant professor Marlene Walk is optimistic about the future of nonprofits. Walk says nonprofits rose to the challenge of the pandemic while still serving those in need. For many smaller nonprofits, this was a survival situation for both their clients and the organization, she says. Walk and her team worked with other universities to analyze 77 COVID-19 impact reports collected through the National Council of Nonprofits on more than 23,000 nonprofit organizations across 43 states. The reports detail how nonprofits have operated since March 2020. Organizations in 13 states answered questions about their most pressing issues. Finances were the most common COVID-19-related worry for organizations in nine states. Nonprofits in eight other states ranked struggling with how to safely offer their services during a global pandemic as their top concern. Lastly, nonprofits in six states were primarily worried about their organization’s human resource considerations—such as their employees’ job status, salaries, and overall well-being. Walk and her team also looked at the impact on employees. She says while large organizations will likely be fine, how smaller organizations handled the pandemic will have a big impact on their future. The research found that many nonprofit workers saw their hours reduced, their pay cut, and—in some cases—their jobs put on hold or eliminated. And much like in other sectors, many also saw a shift to predominately remote work. For nonprofits trying to navigate the return to work and the future of their organizations, Walk suggests asking employees their opinions, for instance, of remote work and whether it can/should continue. Furthermore, Walk said organizations should determine what organizational practices can be improved upon and should evaluate which new technologies adopted during the pandemic can be institutionalized.
In addition to nonprofits, nursing homes have also been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, with many perceptions and misperceptions but little documentation about what has happened on a day-by-day basis to residents in these facilities. A study from Regenstrief Institute and IU School of Medicine research scientists is one of the first to describe and identify patterns in the course of COVID-19 in the typically frail individuals who reside in nursing homes. Research scientist Kathleen Unroe says when the COVID outbreak occurred, physicians who care for nursing home residents didn't know what to expect--they were not armed with knowledge or clinical experience to be able to predict who would do well and who wouldn't. Researchers studied the electronic medical records of 74 nursing home residents infected with COVID -- half were women, 57 percent were Caucasian and 43 percent were African American. One third died, with 23 of the deaths considered related to COVID-19 infection. Hypertension was the most common comorbidity followed by dementia, diabetes and non-dementia mental illness. The most common symptoms were fever, low oxygen, anorexia, and fatigue/malaise. None reported headaches and the duration of symptoms was extended, with an average of more than three weeks. The 74 nursing home residents with COVID-19 infection appeared to fall into four disease trajectory categories: minimal to no symptoms; residents who survived but experienced significant symptoms; residents who died after a rapidly progressive course; and residents who died after a prolonged course with significant symptom burden. Researchers say that a full understanding of the disease burden and trajectories of COVID-19 in nursing home residents—those who died and those who survived COVID—will aid medical and public health professionals, help them prepare for outbreaks of variants and inform efforts to confront outbreaks of other diseases.