For years, the federal government has kept hidden the names of hundreds of nursing homes nationwide still being cited by inspectors for consistent substandard care. This all changed on Monday when Pennsylvania’s U.S. Senators Bob Casey Jr. and Pat Toomey publicly released a national list of these facilities as part of an ongoing investigation into the federal oversight of nursing homes.
Nearly 400 facilities that had a persistent record of poor health, safety, or sanitary issues, are now included in a public list as candidates for a program designed to improve the nation’s most troubled nursing homes. The list includes 16 of Pennsylvania’s nursing homes, most notably Spring Creek Rehabilitation in Harrisburg and Nursing Center in Swatara Township, The Gardens at Blue Ridge in Harrisburg, and the Shippensburg Health Center in Shippensburg.
Homes currently in the federal program are known as special focus facilities and are chosen based on a history of ongoing poor care. These homes face more oversight, such as extra inspections and face being closed down if they continue to underperform. Out of 15,000 nursing homes, only 88 are currently considered special focus facilities – less than one percent nationwide.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services provides an updated, publicized list of special focus facilities each month. However, the agency has also kept an internal and shorter list of homes they consider as candidates that have yet to receive additional oversight. These homes have not been selected for participation in the program due to limited resources at the agency.
Regardless, Sen. Casey and Tomey believe this type of secrecy undermines the federal government's commitment to ensure transparency among families trying to find adequate nursing homes for their loved ones. It also raises questions as to why the names of some facilities are publicly disclosed while others are not.
Families have a right to know if a particular nursing home is a candidate on the list or a participant in the program. This way any family member or potential resident can have access to this information and make an informed decision about nursing home care, stated Casey in a PennLive report. Both senators are now urging the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to continue releasing its regular list of special focus facilities in addition to a newly updated candidate list on a monthly basis.
In addition to these concerns, the senators’ findings also report several other inconsistencies with the federal government and nursing home care. This includes the agency’s Nursing Home Compare feature, which fails to properly explain to the general public what a special focus facility status means. There is no extra information regarding how long a facility has been in the program and whether it was formally given that distinction.
Unlike nursing homes already in the program, it is not mandatory for candidate facilities to disclose any information about their operation practices to regulators and face no additional inspections or educational resources to effectively help them improve.
Has Your Loved One Received Substandard Care in a Nursing Home?
There are often warning signs and other indicators of abuse but in many instances, it can be difficult to determine the neglect until it is too late. If you suspect that your loved one has received persistent poor care in a nursing home facility, it is in your best interest to contact a skilled Harrisburg nursing home abuse lawyer at Schmidt Kramer as soon as possible. We are ready to fight for your loved one’s rights and help hold a nursing home accountable for its negligent actions.
Our firm offers free consultations where we can review your case and determine your legal options to pursue compensation on behalf of your loved one. All of our services are offered on contingency, which means there are no upfront costs unless we help you obtain favorable compensation.