Pennsylvania Suspends On-Site Inspection in Nursing Homes During the COVID-19 Pandemic
As coronavirus-related deaths increase across Pennsylvania, nursing homes in the state have less state and federal oversight. In fact, even facilities cited repeatedly for failing to protect their residents against infections and communicable diseases are not being inspected during the coronavirus pandemic.
With restrictions on visitation from family members, nursing home residents are more vulnerable than ever before. In fact, nursing home residents account for over 60% of Pennsylvania’s more than 1,500 coronavirus deaths. Furthermore, over 7,300 COVID-19 cases are linked to residents and workers at 425 long-term care facilities across the state.
The news comes as AARP, the biggest advocate for senior welfare in the U.S., is urging Gov. Tom Wolf to reveal a list of all long-term care facilities with confirmed COVID-19 cases. So far, the state of Pennsylvania has refused to release the names of these facilities.
Less State or Federal Oversight in Nursing Homes During the COVID-19 Pandemic
According to a report by York Daily Record, many nursing homes across Pennsylvania have had no visits from state inspectors since early March when Wolf issued guidelines to protect residents and workers of long-term care facilities.
Pennsylvania’s nursing homes are not being subject to inspections during the COVID-19 pandemic unless there have been complaints that a resident is in immediate danger from something other than the coronavirus disease. This includes even facilities that have been repeatedly cited for their failure to protect patients and residents from infectious and communicable diseases.
As nursing home residents are at a higher risk of severe illness and death from COVID-19 due to their age and chronic medical conditions, state and federal oversight helps ensure that these facilities follow protocols and guidelines to protect their residents. However, emergency response plans show that there have been practically no state and federal inspections during the pandemic.
Suspended On-Site Inspections in Pennsylvania Nursing Homes
State and federal regulators have suspended routine inspections in an attempt to curb the spread of COVID-19 in nursing homes. Their reasoning to suspend on-site inspection visits is that they did not want to carry the coronavirus disease into nursing homes.
In the new set of inspection guidelines in its disaster emergency declaration, the Pennsylvania Department of Health explained that it would perform inspections in long-term care facilities only upon receiving a complaint saying that a patient or resident is in immediate jeopardy.
One example of a nursing home putting a resident in “immediate jeopardy” would be the facility’s failure to comply with Pennsylvania’s state health requirements, which leads or is likely to lead to injury or wrongful death.
Despite the lack of state oversight and regular inspections, Pennsylvania’s health department is still determined to ensure that nursing homes and other long-term care facilities are conducting proper infection control efforts to stop the spread of the coronavirus disease. However, the department is not conducting on-site visits, even in facilities that have had previous infection control violations.
The facility’s failure to take appropriate steps to ensure their residents’ safety may constitute nursing home neglect. If your loved one was harmed by the facility’s negligence, carelessness, or lack of reasonable precautionary measures to stop the COVID-19 exposure, contact our Scranton nursing home neglect lawyers. Reach out to Needle Law Firm for a free case review. Call at 570-344-1266.