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Auditor General DePasquale’s New Nursing Home Oversight Audit is a Critical Step Toward Improving Care

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Tuesday, July 26, 2016

SEIU Healthcare PA applauds AG and DOH’s commitment to improving nursing home care and pledges to work with industry partners to resolve challenges

HARRISBURG, PA – Following Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale’s new performance audit that highlights the many systematic challenges to the Department of Health’s ability to the ensure quality nursing home care, new SEIU Healthcare PA President Matt Yarnell issued the following statement:

“The Pennsylvania seniors living in nursing homes deserve and requihigh-qualityity care,” said Yarnell. “It’s the Department of Health’s job to provide the necessary oversight to ensure that all providers are meeting the highest standards of care. Both Auditor General Eugene DePasquale and Secretary of Health Karen Murphy should be recognized for their leadership in addressing issues that impact the quality of long term care provided to thousands of PA seniors and people living with disabilities.”

Auditor General DePasquale’s Audit Report highlights three areas of concern that impact quality of care received by residents and the quality of jobs for the roughly 80,000 PA nursing home workers, including over 10,000 SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania members – 1) oversight of minimum staffing requirements 2) the DOH’s complaint investigation process, and 3) the process for issuing sanctions. The audit report underscores challenges that SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania nursing home members have been raising for years, particularly the adequacy of the Commonwealth’s minimum staffing requirement of 2.7 hours of care per day.

“We know that better staffing means better care. For too long when we raised this with employers, their response has been they are following the rules and meeting or exceeding the minimum 2.7 hours. We need to change the rules that all nursing homes follow and the state has to enforce them equally,” said nurse aide Tisheia Frazier from Philadelphia.

SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania members are ready and willing to work with officials from the Auditor General’s office, the Department of Health, and providers to address issues raised by the audit.

“Our experience is most providers want to provide the highest quality care and many of our industry partners have expressed interest in improving the standards that all providers should be meeting – particularly raising the minimum staffing requirements,” said Yarnell. “We need to make sure there are enough caregivers to provide the highest quality care and that these jobs are living wage jobs with good benefits so we can recruit and retain the best staff. If we can do that, we can go a long way to address many of the challenges raised by today’s audit.”

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SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania is the state’s largest and fastest growing union of nurses and healthcare workers, unity nearly 45,000 nurses, professional and technical employees in hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, home and community based services, and State facilities across the Commonwealth.  SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania members are committed to improving the lives of healthcare workers’ and ensuring quality care and healthy communities for all Pennsylvanians. 

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