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Speaking Out for Nursing Home Accountability

Following up on a report and legislation introduced last week that offers a path to improve nursing home accountability in terms of spending, staffing and reporting, over 100 nursing home workers gathered in Harrisburg on March 18 to build support with lawmakers.

“I work as a CNA because I love taking care of my residents,” says Florise Louis, a licensed nurse practitioner from East Stroudsburg, “But too often, we have to work short staffed without the supplies we need. This adds extra stress and affects the quality of care we can give our residents. For our seniors this is unacceptable and I am going to Harrisburg to tell my legislators just that.”

As a result of report findings and in-district legislative visits caregivers have held throughout the year to demand increased nursing home industry accountability, legislators have responded, introducing a package of legislation to address current gaps in reporting, staffing and spending requirements.

Senate Bill 624, sponsored by Senator Sean Wiley (D-Erie)  would require nursing homes to meet a minimum level of nurse aide staffing.  Senator Matt Smith (D-Allegheny/Washington) is sponsoring Senate Bill 625 and 626 that would require nursing homes to report turnover and staffing levels to the Department of Health and require nursing homes spend a minimum amount of their Medicaid resident care per diem rate, respectively.

“Providing quality care to our seniors is the reason why nursing homes exist in the first place,” said Donna Heimbach, a certified nursing assistant from Lewistown . “As a CNA who is responsible for providing most of the hands-on resident care, I am thrilled with the idea of legislation that will increase the amount of time, money and accountability that goes toward improving care.  We all have to work together to make sure our tax dollars are spent appropriately.  After all, sooner or later, we could be the ones receiving care.”

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