Since the beginning of February, the Pennsylvania Department of Health nursing home surveyors conducted 1,473 inspections of nursing homes, including 907 complaint investigations during the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, 10 sanctions were finalized against nursing care facilities, which included the issuance of two provisional one licenses, and civil penalties totaling $93,500.
The following breakdowns represent survey activity that occurred each month:
• April : 486 surveys of 336 separate facilities, 113 building safety surveys, 373 patient care surveys, 298 complaint investigations
• March: 537 surveys of 359 separate facilities, 150 building safety surveys, 387 patient care surveys, 321 complaint investigations
• February: 450 surveys of 314 separate facilities, 119 building safety surveys, 331 patient care surveys, 288 complaint investigations
Although annual inspections are not occurring at this time, extensions are in place according to guidance issued from the Center of Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS). The majority of other inspections are still occurring but may be conducted virtually rather than onsite to minimize the spread of COVID-19.
Individuals with complaints about a nursing home can file that complaint with the department in several ways. Complaints can be made anonymously by calling 1-800-254-5164, filling out the online complaint form, emailing email@example.com or sending the complaint in the mail to the department.
The inspections, called surveys, include information on nursing home patient-care and building inspections. If a facility is cited for not following regulations during the survey, it must submit a plan of correction that includes what will be done to fix the issue and a completion date. The department will conduct a surprise follow-up inspection to ensure the issue is resolved. Surveys are posted to the website 41 days after the survey is completed.
The department also may issue a sanction. Possible sanctions include a civil penalty, a ban on admissions, a license being revoked, or a facility being put on a provisional license, which requires, among other things, being subject to additional inspections. A provisional license can be renewed no more than three times. The department can return the facility to a regular license if it is satisfied that all issues have been corrected and it is warranted.