The need for new regulations stems from changes in the nursing home industry.
Facilities no longer provide only long-term care for aging residents. They now care for many patients on a short-term basis following extended hospital stays, according to Pennsylvania Department of Health Secretary Dr. Karen Murphy.
The department’s current regulations do not reflect the changing environment, Murphy said.
To identify changes in regulation, a Nursing Home Quality Improvement Task Force was formed. Nursing homes could face new requirements and higher penalties for facilities that don’t comply.
Over the next several months, the department will work with lawmakers to revise regulations and recommend laws to change nursing home oversight.
Money for the effort comes from a $2 million legal settlement between the state Attorney General and Reliant Senior Care.
The nursing home chain, which is now under new ownership, operates 22 nursing homes in Pennsylvania. It was accused of not providing basic services to its residents.
The health department received $1.2 million from the Attorney General as a result of the settlement.
Murphy emphasized on Tuesday that the department’s efforts to improve quality of care in nursing homes are “in no way an indictment of the entire nursing home industry in Pennsylvania,” noting that the state has many excellent facilities.
“We will continue to make improvements to ensure that every Pennsylvanian living in a nursing home has access to high-quality care,” Murphy said. “We know we can do better, and now we have the tools to make it happen.”