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Legislation to Protect Nursing Home Residents Earns Senate Approval

By PA Senate - David Argall

Sep 26, 2020
PA Senate Seal

HARRISBURG – Residents of assisted living facilities and other long-term care homes would be better protected against disease outbreaks under a bill approved by the Senate, according to Senator David G. Argall, who supported the bill.

“It seems like a given that we should do all we can during times of crisis to protect our most vulnerable populations, but that is not what our Secretary of Health did with nursing homes at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Argall. “This legislation will help ensure that older Pennsylvanians are protected in any future public health crises.”

Senate Bill 1189 would require the Secretary of Health to ensure long-term care facilities follow and implement disease prevention and control guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

The bill would also require the Department of Health to ensure that no individual who has tested positive for a communicable disease within 14 days is placed in a facility without being placed in isolation. The Secretary of Health would be prevented from forcing the admission of a patient to a long-term care facility without considering the ability of the facility to care for the patient.

The need for the legislation was magnified by the COVID-19 pandemic. Orders from the Department of Health mandated that older residents who tested positive for COVID-19 were returned to nursing homes.

Approximately two-thirds of all COVID-19 deaths in Pennsylvania were residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities. Senate Bill 1189 was sent to the House of Representatives for consideration. 

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