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Nearly 1,000 Pa. nursing home complaints investigated during coronavirus: health officials

Patriot-News - 5/23/2020

Health officials announced on Saturday that Pennsylvania nursing homes have been asked to pay more than $93,000 in penalties because of inspections over the last three months.

Nearly 1,500 inspections have been completed at nursing homes across the state since February, the Pennsylvania Department of Health said. More than 900 complaints have been filed.

Ten sanctions were finalized against care facilities, according to Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine. The consequences of sanctions civil penalties, bans on admissions, licenses being revoked, or the facility being placed under a provisional license, which can require more inspections than normal.

Facilities that don’t meet the state’s standards must submit a plan to correct the issues. Health officials undergo surprise check-ups later on to ensure the changes have been made, Levine said.

The health secretary said the Wolf administration has taken a three-fold approach to combating the coronavirus in long-term care facilities -- providing education and testing; preventing or mitigating outbreaks; and overseeing collaboration between facility directors and the government.

“We know that congregate care settings, like nursing homes, have been challenged by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Levine said. “That is why we remain committed to protecting the health and well-being of our most vulnerable Pennsylvanians by continuing to hold nursing home operators accountable, as necessary, to ensure they are providing safe care."

The Department of Health shared the monthly breakdown:

April

486 surveys of 336 separate facilities

113 building safety surveys

373 patient care surveys

298 complaint investigations

March

537 surveys of 359 separate facilities

150 building safety surveys

387 patient care surveys

321 complaint investigations

February

450 surveys of 314 separate facilities

119 building safety surveys

331 patient care surveys

288 complaint investigations

Last year’s penalties added up to more than $2.5 million from 5,381 inspections of 3,637 nursing homes, including 3,285 complaint investigations, according to Department of Health data.

Annual inspections aren’t being conducted right now, but Levine is encouraging anyone who knows of inadequate conditions to contact health officials.

“If you see something at a nursing home that doesn’t seem right, we encourage you to speak up,” she said.

Anonymous complaints can be made by calling 1-800-254-5164, filling out the online complaint form, emailing c-ncomplai@pa.gov or sending the complaint in the mail to the department.

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