On December 15, 2021, CalMatters published an article with the above-title about a nearly million dollar fine imposed against a Fresno nursing home, Northpointe Healthcare Centre, that was largely hidden from the public for years.
On December 22, 2021, CDPH Director Tomas Aragón issued public health orders, one that includes nursing homes, and another that includes assisted living facilities, requiring all care staff persons that have received COVID-19 vaccines to also receive boosters by February 1, 2022.
Despite a statewide mandate that requires nursing home staff to be fully vaccinated for COVID-19 by September 30, 2021, 861 nursing homes still have vaccination rates below 100%, with another 68 nursing homes failing to report their staff vaccination rates altogether. Only 250 (21%) of the 1,179 nursing homes reporting to CMS (as of November 28, 2021 per CMS) reported full compliance with the mandate. One-hundred and seventy-one nursing homes have less than 90% of their staff vaccinated, two months after the deadline for compliance.California’s pervasive non-compliance with the nursing home staff vaccination mandates is particularly worrisome after a recent New England Journal of Medicine study was published showing a relationship between staff vaccination rates and the transmission of COVID-19 and deaths among nursing home residents. The study found that COVID-19 death rates in nursing homes with lower staff vaccination were 195% higher than predicted outcomes if the facilities had had higher vaccination rates.It is unknown whether the California Department of Health (CDPH) has taken any steps to enforce the statewide mandate. CDPH’s counterpart in Connecticut has issued over $19 million in fines against long term care facilities that failed to certify compliance with a similar state mandate for staff vaccinations.
On November 22, 2021, CANHR and 13 partner organizations submitted a letter and recommendations to the Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) on reforming California’s $5 billion-a-year Medi-Cal payment system for skilled nursing facilities, which is scheduled to sunset next year.
A new report by Consumer Voice depicts the tremendous gap between the needs of nursing home residents and the actual staffing standards in states throughout the nation.
A December 6, 2021 special report by the Center for Medicare Advocacy addresses the disturbing trend of poor-quality providers expanding the numbers of nursing homes they own and operate.
A December 6, 2021 article by CalMatters reports that California nursing homes have filed more than 400 lawsuits since 2016 to appeal state citations and fines for neglect and abuse.
Those looking for reason to have faith in government oversight of nursing homes won’t find it in the New York Times December 9, 2021 article on how the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) hides severe violations from the public.
On November 19, 2021, the United States House of Representatives passed its version of the Build Back Better Act, which includes five important provisions to improve protections for nursing home residents.
The Department of Social Services has released a new Provider Information Notice reminding Residential Care Facilities for the Elderly (RCFEs) that all residents have control over their visits, calls, and outings unless a court has authorized the curtailment of their rights. RCFE residents often have their access to visits, calls, and outings limited by family members or other third parties who lack the legal authority to do so. While many of these surrogate decision makers are well-meaning, residents’ legal rights can only be taken away by a judge.