Harrisburg, PA - In its July 2021 report, the Pennsylvania Department of Health notes that nursing home surveyors conducted 466 inspections, including 289 complaint investigations, of 329 separate nursing homes. Of these inspections, 30 were COVID-19-specific investigations. There were five new sanctions finalized against nursing care facilities in the past month resulting in a total of $40,150 in fines.
“Throughout the COVID-19 response, the department has continued to investigate any complaint 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 firstname.lastname@example.org, 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.
To best understand COVID-19 impact in nursing homes, the department requires facilities to self-report the cumulative number of cases and deaths of staff and residents to the department. To access that data, along with county level data, visit the department’s LTCF data page.
On August 12, the Department of Health set a minimum goal for all nursing homes to have at least 80 percent of staff fully vaccinated for COVID-19 by Oct. 1, 2021, to help vulnerable residents. Currently in Pennsylvania, 12.5 percent of facilities have staff vaccinated at or above 80 percent. 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, 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.
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.