Pa. auditor general to investigate nursing homes, citing staffing issues

Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene A. DePasquale, speaks after he was sworn in for his second term at the Capitol in Harrisburg, Pa., Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017. (Chris Knight/AP Photo)

Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene A. DePasquale, speaks after he was sworn in for his second term at the Capitol in Harrisburg, Pa., Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017. (Chris Knight/AP Photo)

Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene Depasquale plans to conduct follow-up audits of nursing homes, two years after a prior investigation showed widespread staffing shortages and lax enforcement by the Department of Health.

The three-to six-month investigation aims to check for compliance on 10 of the recommendations he made to nursing facilities and DOH.

The 2016 report showed nursing homes were chronically understaffed, workers weren’t spending enough time with patients, and the Department of Health wasn’t doing enough to enforce the rules.

“Not only that they’re having enough staff, but that they’re having enough direct care and enough direct care time, and that the fines are significant enough that a nursing home doesn’t just view it as a cost of doing business to violate the staffing level,” Depasquale said.

He said nursing homes in violation of rules could be referred to the Department of Health or in cases with potentially criminal implications turned over to the state attorney general.

Department of Health spokesman Nate Wardle said DOH welcomes the chance to review the progress it has made with the auditor general and discuss what comes next.

“There have been improvements made since his 2016 audit, and we are continuing to work to ensure safe care is provided to those living in nursing homes in Pennsylvania.”

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