Pa. forms task force to address growing nursing home allegations

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HARRISBURG, Pa. — Pennsylvania’s Department of Health has formed a task force to review the way nursing homes in the state are run following a lawsuit and a series of disturbing allegations at multiple facilities in Central Pennsylvania.

Health Secretary Dr. Karen Murphy announced Wednesday the task force will work over the next six months to discover the best nursing home practices for the state. She called allegations surrounding the “Golden Living” nursing homes to be disturbing. Both the Department of Health and Auditor General’s office have been investigating the nursing home after the Attorney General’s office filed a lawsuit in July, accusing the company of denying its residents their “most basic human needs” in 14 of their 36 locations. The Attorney General’s lawsuit claims their facilities, from 2008 to 2014, were understaffed and lacked adequate care for residents, including some residents left in soiled diapers, in their own feces and urine, for extended periods of time.

Murphy said the task force, which consists of industry experts, doctors, and state lawmakers, will make recommendations for how nursing homes in Pennsylvania can be improved.

“We want to make sure we’re the national leader in protecting our (nursing home) residents,” Murphy said.

Despite these recent allegations, data shows Pennsylvania is the national leader in at least one area of nursing home care. Pennsylvania leads the nation in the fewest number of “serious deficiencies per home.” Stuart Shapiro, CEO of the Pennsylvania Health Care Association and Center for Assisted Living Management, supported the DOH in a statement Wednesday, echoing the state’s leadership as one of the country’s top states for nursing homes.

“Recent reports have questioned nursing home quality,” he said. “Yet, by all measures, Pennsylvania’s skilled nursing centers continue to surpass major milestones.”

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