O’Mara’s and Southeast Delegation members’ calls for higher-quality care in PA nursing homes recognized by Wolf administration

HARRISBURG, July 22 – State Rep. Jennifer O’Mara, D-Delaware, and members of the PA House Democratic Caucus’ Southeast Delegation authored a letter to Gov. Tom Wolf in April detailing the need to increase nursing homes’ minimum direct care hours.

On Wednesday, July 21, the governor and secretary of health included this measure in their proposed revisions to the state’s nursing home regulations.

The legislators’ letter dated April 15, 2021, advocates for the Pennsylvania Department of Health to increase minimum direct care hours in long-term care facilities from 2.7 to 4.1. O’Mara added that skilled nursing facility regulations have not been updated in more than 20 years.

“Residents of long-term care facilities are burdened by this antiquated minimum established by the commonwealth. By increasing the amount of care they receive each day, we can simultaneously address the high turnover rate and consistent understaffing of Pennsylvania’s nursing homes and work toward creating manageable workloads that deliver high-quality care to residents,” O’Mara said.

Secretary of Health Alison Beam noted that this is the first in a series of five packages of proposed nursing home regulations. The Pennsylvania Department of Health plans to submit the final-form regulations once all five packages of updates move through the state’s regulatory review process.

“The COVID-19 pandemic showed us how desperately we need to update our long-term care facility regulations to ensure the health and well-being of some of our most vulnerable Pennsylvanians,” O’Mara said.

More information on the Wolf Administration’s announcement is available here: https://www.media.pa.gov/pages/health-details.aspx?newsid=1530.