Report on Pennsylvania nursing homes raises concerns about staffing, funding

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — The national advocacy group Families for Better Care gave Pennsylvania’s nursing homes an F, but not everyone agrees with the state’s grade.

Families for Better Care says 95% of Pennsylvania’s nursing homes were cited for deficiencies. The state’s facilities were ranked 46th nationally, sinking 14 spots since the last report in 2014.

The nonprofit says residents struggle to get direct care from staff.

The state says Gov. Tom Wolf continues to urge lawmakers to establish safe staffing levels. This year, the state began monthly reports on its nursing homes.

Health officials say in April, there were 541 inspections of 369 nursing homes, plus 312 complaint investigations. Civil penalties totaled more than $200,000.

“We believe some of this movement is actually because of increased oversight of facilities by the Department of Health, which leads to more sanctions and more filing of complaints by patients and their families, all of which can lead to improved care,” said Nate Wardle, a spokesperson for the Department of Health.

The Pennsylvania Health Care Association says the Families for Better Care report is completely wrong.

“There is survey deficiency data that is outdated and there is staffing data that is misrepresented,” said Zach Shamberg, the CEO of the Pennsylvania Health Care Association. 

The organization says the state’s quality measures released by the government continue to improve, and that everything comes down to Medicaid funding.

“We’re fighting hard every single day to ensure that there’s a funding increase in this year’s state budget,” said Shamberg.

The Health Department says to call 1-800-254-5164 or fill out an online complaint form to report nursing home issues. 

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