Matzie bill would mandate immediate inspection of nursing homes statewide
Would require state to assess infection control, provide testing, resources
AMBRIDGE, May 4 – Calling the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on nursing homes a critically urgent situation in which time is costing lives, state Rep. Rob Matzie is introducing legislation that would require immediate inspection of all long-term care facilities throughout the state.
Matzie, D-Beaver/Allegheny, said he is introducing H.B. 2481 – which would require the state Health Department to assess infection control and provide testing, reporting and necessary resources – to address an alarmingly high death toll that threatens to grow worse with inaction.
“I have been urging the state look into conditions at Beaver County’s Brighton Rehabilitation and Wellness Center since the last week of March,” Matzie said. “Recently the facility entered into an agreement with a temporary manager, but the virus continues to spread, and the death toll mounts. The residents, families, staff, leaders in the community and the public at large do not trust that the company is being transparent and doing all it can do to mitigate the spread of the virus.
“But it’s not just my county. The pandemic has hit hard statewide, and the nursing homes that care for our parents and grandparents – our most vulnerable citizens – are ground zero,” Matzie said. “Staff and residents are being infected at much higher rates than the general public in confined, high-risk environments that have become pressure-cookers. With nursing homes accounting for nearly two-thirds of Pennsylvania’s total deaths, inaction is not an option.”
Matzie said his legislation would require the Department of Health to:
- immediately inspect all long-term care facilities in the state.
- assess each facility’s infection control procedures.
- provide testing for every resident and worker.
- record all findings and report those to the public.
- provide the appropriate personnel and resources to each facility to deal with any observed outbreak in real time.
In addition, in light of a class action lawsuit alleging that the facility performed drug experiments on patients under the guise of clinical trials, Matzie asked Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro to investigate.
As of May 3, the state Department of Health reported there were 9,122 cases of COVID-19 in long-term care residents and 1,194 cases in employees, for a total of 10,316 at 492 facilities in 44 counties. Of the state’s 2,444 deaths, 1,635 had occurred in residents from nursing or personal care facilities.