Secretary of Health Karen Murphy Wednesday announced the formation of a nursing home task force and discussed other initiatives launched since allegations of inadequate care in 14 nursing homes operated by Golden Senior Living between 2008 and 2014 were identified in a lawsuit filed by Attorney General Kathleen Kane last month.
"I was deeply disturbed by these allegations regarding some Pennsylvania nursing homes and said we would take immediate steps to address the situation," said Murphy. "Today I am pleased to announce the Department of Health has formed a task force to determine what additional measures can be taken to ensure enhanced quality in these facilities."
The task force, which includes nationally recognized experts in long term care management, will be charged with identifying ways the department can advance quality improvement in Pennsylvania's long-term care facilities.
The goal is to review current regulations and identify areas that the department may improve to ensure that nursing homes are operating at the highest level regarding the quality and safety of their residents.
In addition to members of the Governor's Office, the secretaries of the departments of Aging, Human Services, and State, the task force members are: Jaqueline Zinn, PhD - Temple University; Mary Naylor, PhD, FAAN, RN - University of Pennsylvania; Steven Handler, MD - University of Pittsburgh; Rachel Werner, MD, PhD - University of Pennsylvania; Dana Mukamel, PhD – University of California, Irvine; David Grabowski PhD - Harvard University; Barbara Bowers RN, PhD, FAAN - University of Wisconsin; Sen. Pat Vance (R-Cumberland); and Rep. Matthew Baker (R-Tioga).
The department also will consult with nursing home industry leaders, health care professionals and consumer groups to complement the work being done by the task force.
The Department of Health has engaged the Auditor General's office in a cooperative effort to audit the policies and procedures related to complaint management in nursing homes.
In addition, the department has started to work across agencies to identify strategies that expand communication between various long-term care programs and ensure complaints from consumers are addressed and resolved by the proper department.
As part of its regulatory and licensure responsibilities, the Department of Health inspects 704 nursing homes across the state with a total of 88,070 beds on an annual basis and, additionally, if complaints are filed.Individuals seeking to file a complaint involving a nursing home in Pennsylvania may do so by calling the Department of Health complaint hotline 1-800-254-5164 or by filing a complaint online.