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Department of Health Highlights October 2021 Nursing Home Inspection, Sanction Information Amidst COVID-19 Pandemic

11/15/2021

Harrisburg, PA - In its October 2021 report, the Pennsylvania Department of Health noted that nursing home surveyors conducted 504 inspections of 345 separate nursing homes. Of those inspections, there were 306 complaint investigations and 67 were COVID-19-specific investigations. There were three new sanctions finalized against nursing care facilities in the past month resulting in a total of $16,500 in fines. 

“The Department of Health continues to investigate complaints to ensure nursing home residents receive the best quality of life and care,” Acting Secretary of Health Alison Beam said. “If you see something that may jeopardize patients’ safety or well-being, you can file an anonymous complaint by calling, filling out an online form, emailing or even mailing a letter to the department.” 

Individuals can call 1-800-254-5164, fill out the online complaint form, email c-ncomplai@pa.gov, or send 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 688 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.  

To provide data on the impact of COVID-19 in nursing homes, the department updates a user-friendly dashboard to view the data reported to the federal government regarding COVID-19 cases and deaths among staff and residents in each nursing home from May 2020 to present.  

Additionally, access to county level data for COVID-19 cases and deaths reported to PA-NEDSS, Pennsylvania’s Disease Surveillance System, among all long-term care facilities is available on the LTCF data page

Currently in Pennsylvania, 36.6 percent of facilities have 80 percent or more of staff vaccinated. You can find the vaccination status of all current nursing home staff and residents reported from the nursing home facility to the CMS on our dashboard to easily analyze this self-reported data to the federal government. 

While residents and staff at skilled nursing facilities are receiving vaccine and available booster doses, it is essential that everyone remain vigilant regarding the potential spread of COVID-19 in congregate care facilities. You can find the latest guidance on nursing home visitations here. 

MEDIA CONTACT: Mark O'Neill - ra-dhpressoffice@pa.gov

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