HARRISBURG – Auditor General Eugene DePasquale released an updated guide to help Pennsylvanians make informed decisions about nursing homes during the outbreak of COVID-19.
“It is critically important that consumers have the tools they need to make informed decisions when it comes to caring for older adults, many of whom are at increased risk from COVID-19,” DePasquale said, noting that the guide offers consumers an outline of measures that facilities should be following in order to keep residents safe.
The guide includes tips for residents and their families; an explanation of general guidelines that facilities must follow; questions to ask facility staff and managers; how to report concerns about quality of care; and other helpful information.
As of July 15, COVID-19 was blamed for the deaths of nearly 7,000 Pennsylvanians, according to Pennsylvania Department of Health (DOH) data. Nearly 4,800 of those deaths – roughly 68 percent – occurred in nursing homes or personal care facilities.
DOH also reported that there were more than 18,000 resident cases of COVID-19, and over 3,500 cases among employees, for a total of nearly 22,000 cases at more than 700 distinct nursing and personal care facilities in 52 counties.
DePasquale said his new guide is a supplement to the department’s Nursing Home Care: A Citizens’ Guide to Informed Decision Making guide, which was released in 2016 to coincide with a performance audit of DOH’s oversight of nursing homes.
“Our 2019 follow-up audit on nursing homes found issues still exist in our long-term care facilities,” DePasquale said. “COVID-19 only magnified those issues, including by increasing the strain on facilities that were already understaffed.”
Review the Nursing Home Care: A Citizens’ Guide to Making Informed Decisions During the COVID-19 Pandemic guide and learn more about the Department of the Auditor General online at www.PaAuditor.gov.