“Many nursing facilities were severely understaffed during the early months of the pandemic, resulting in deficient care, neglect and negative health outcomes for residents,” the committee said in a statement Wednesday. press before the hearing.
Earlier this year, President Biden instructed the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services [CMS] develop minimum staffing standards for nursing homes. By highlighting issues during the pandemic, Wednesday’s House hearing increases pressure on nursing homes and the Biden administration as CMS’s work continues. The agency recently said it plans to study staffing levels over the winter.
The nursing home industry, represented by the powerful American Health Care Association, said proposed minimum staffing regulations would cost $10 billion a year. In addition, he says up to 187,000 new workers would need to be hired, what he calls an “impossible” task amid a severe nationwide shortage of healthcare workers. It says reaching higher staffing levels would force further reductions in bed availability.
But critics have long cited the poor staffing of for-profit nursing home chains as contributing to neglect and poor health outcomes for residents. The House panel on Wednesday released transcripts from the complaints hotline during the covid crisis. The subcommittee is chaired by Representative James E. Clyburn (DS.C.).
“For example, a former resident reported that a Sava facility in Nevada had only one nurse covering two entire floors on April 7, 2020, and that a resident of that facility vomited on himself and hadn’t been changed or showered for at least two days. later, while another resident had to wait four hours for water,” the committee reported.
SavaSeniorCare did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The committee released a compilation of complaints, without any identifying information from the complainants, which were directed to three major nursing home chains, SavaSeniorCare, Ensign Group and Consulate Health Care.
The committee also released the organizational charts of five companies it investigated. Critics said the convoluted structure of nursing home chains – with hundreds of separate companies owning individual facilities and several related businesses that provide services to the homes – prevented accurate scrutiny of their profits, operations and of their safety records.
The American Health Care Association said the subcommittee’s focus on staffing and other issues in the early months of the pandemic predictably painted a picture for nursing homes. who were in shock. Hospitals were prioritized over nursing homes for government support in the early stages, the AHCA said, including personal protective equipment and testing supplies.
At that time, “every long-term care provider in the country was imploring public health agencies and policy makers to send help to the front lines and put our nation’s most vulnerable population first,” he said. said AHCA President and CEO Mark Parkinson. “It’s unfortunate that we have to remind lawmakers what those early days were like.”