Pa. Dept. of Health announces first of five proposed nursing home regulation packages

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — Department of Health Acting Secretary Alison Beam and other Wolf administration officials shared proposed nursing home regulations focused on increasing the quality of care received by residents by increasing the minimum direct care hours by 1.4 more hours each day.

The minimum standard of required hours of direct care for residents will increase from 2.7 to 4.1 hours within a 24-hour period.

According to the press release, the current skilled nursing facility regulations have not been updated since 1999.

“Revising nursing home regulations is one piece of the administration’s ongoing effort to improve care for residents and working conditions for staff in nursing homes,” Acting Secretary of Health Alison Beam said during a news conference at Homeland Center in Harrisburg.

Beam noted in the press conference that this is the first in a series of five packages of proposed regulations that are based on the latest research, input from experts and industry stakeholders.

The announcement was made a mere 24 hours after Harrisburg caregivers from the Gardens at Blue Ridge announced their plan strike alongside nursing home workers from more than 20 different homes across the Commonwealth.

Shelly Lawrence, a Certified Nursing Assistant in western PA previously said “Staffing is terrible and wages are too low to bring in the staff our residents need.”

According to the group of strikers, more than 1,500 Pennsylvania nursing home workers will strike against the ‘growing crisis’ in the state’s nursing homes.

The next step is for the first package of proposed regulations to be published in the ‘Pa Bulletin’ by the end of July, which will begin a 30-day public comment period.

“Nursing home regulations have not been updated in nearly 25 years. Given the magnitude and importance of the regulations for more than 72,000 nursing home residents and their families, publishing the proposed updates in packages will allow each section the opportunity for appropriate feedback during the public comment period,” Beam added in the press conference.

The department plans to submit the final-form regulations once all five packages of updates move through the state’s regulatory review process. According to the press release, only the 692 licensed skilled nursing facilities regulated by the Dept. of Health will have the regulations apply.

“Skilled nursing facilities are both homes and caretakers, and we must be sure that these facilities are structured and staffed in a way that can deliver the level and quality of care that residents require and deserve,” Acting Human Services Secretary Meg Snead said.

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The Dept. of Health will be working on the other four packages of proposed regulations. According to the press release, the other proposed updates include change of ownership, staff development, staffing ratios and infection control and prevention.

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