Harrisburg, PA - In its June 2021 report, the Pennsylvania Department of Health notes that nursing home surveyors conducted 453 inspections, including 293 complaint investigations, of 322 separate nursing homes. Of these inspections, 55 were COVID-19-specific investigations. There were five new sanctions finalized against nursing care facilities in the past month resulting in a total of $44,500 in fines.
“We continue to ensure nursing home staff and residents have access to the vaccine for protection against this virus and investigate all complaints made to the department to ensure residents receive the best quality of care,” Acting Secretary of Health Alison Beam said. “We encourage staff, residents and visitors, if you see something, please say something by contacting the department.”
Individuals can file complaints about a nursing home with the department in several ways: anonymously by calling 1-800-254-5164, filling out the online complaint form, emailing email@example.com, or sending the complaint in the mail to the department.
The inspections include information on nursing home patient care and building inspections. If a facility is cited for not following regulations during the survey, it must submit a plan of correction that includes what will be done to fix the issue(s) and a completion date for the resolution. The department will conduct a surprise follow-up inspection to ensure issues are resolved. Surveys are posted to the website 41 days after the survey is completed.
The Department of Health also conducts surveys on behalf of the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS). These surveys include federal certification and recertification, complaint surveys, building safety surveys and others.
The department also may issue sanctions that could include a civil penalty, a ban on admissions, a license being revoked, or a facility being put on a provisional license, which requires, among other things, being subject to additional inspections. A provisional license can be renewed no more than three times. The department can return the facility to a regular license if it is satisfied that all issues have been corrected and it is warranted.
The department maintains a searchable database, which allows the public to view patient care surveys, building safety surveys, size of the nursing home, type of ownership and additional information about each of the nursing homes in the state. The department oversees 692 nursing homes with more than 88,000 beds in Pennsylvania, in addition to other facilities, including hospitals, ambulatory surgical facilities, home care agencies and others.
The Wolf Administration has taken a three-pillar approach to protecting the vulnerable residents living in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities (LTCF) from COVID-19:
· Ensuring resident safety through testing, education, and resources;
· Preventing and mitigating outbreaks; and
· Working in partnership with state agencies, local health departments and long-term care facility operators.
While the COVID-19 vaccine is not mandatory, it is strongly encouraged to protect against outbreaks. Following the vaccination clinics offered through the Federal Pharmacy Partnership, the department shared a LTCF vaccine strategy to ensure all residents and staff continue to have access to the vaccine. You can find the vaccination status of all current nursing home staff and resident census reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported weekly.
While residents and staff at skilled nursing facilities are receiving vaccine, it is essential that everyone remain vigilant regarding the potential spread of COVID-19 in congregate care facilities. Data regarding LTCF cases can be found on the department’s LTCF data page.
“We know nursing homes have been challenged by the pandemic. We continue to work with nursing home facilities to ensure they are reporting their cumulative cases and deaths to the department each week so we can present this data to show Pennsylvanians the impact in each facility,” Acting Secretary Beam said.
More information regarding guidance provided to nursing homes, the orders in place, fact sheets and frequently asked questions documents to assist in regard to what is being done by the state to assist nursing homes can be found on the department’s COVID-19 nursing home page.
You can find the latest guidance on nursing home visitations here.
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