Bethlehem Press

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Nursing home conditions: Pa. fares poorly

Tuesday, June 18, 2019 by Bernie O’Hare Special to the Bethlehem Press in Local News

Families For Better Care, a national watchdog group that creates public awareness of nursing home conditions, has released its latest report card. Pennsylvania not only gets a failing grade, but is ranked near the bottom of the barrel, at number 46 overall.

This “F” is based on ratings from The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), annual state Department of Health inspections and staffing level.

The assessment notes that 95 percent of Pennsylvania’s homes had at least one deficiency. This may very well be the result of another problem, a drop in direct nursing care.

Under state law, each nursing home resident must receive 2.7 hours of general nursing care every day. This state protection is obviously designed to protect some of the most vulnerable citizens. But five of Northampton County’s 14 nursing homes are below this state standard. Staffing shortages exist at The Gardens at Easton, The Gardens for Memory Care at Easton, New Eastwood Healthcare and Rehab Center, Slate Belt Health and Rehab Center, Weston Rehab and Nursing Center and Gracedale. The only publicly owned nursing home is Gracedale.

Late last year, Pa. Auditor General Eugene DePasquale announced plans to audit the state’s nursing homes over staffing shortages. He said then that adequate staffing levels directly impact the quality of care provided to 90,000 Pennsylvanians — more than the population of Lancaster and Johnstown combined — who live in nursing homes.

NorCo’s Human Services Director, Sue Wandalowski, has said that Pennsylvania faces a “silver tsunami.” Its 60 plus population will outnumber those under 20, starting next year.