by James C. Sherlock
Effective May 1 of this year, Karen Shelton M.D. became Virginia’s Health Commissioner. Dr. Shelton is now the licensor and regulator of Virginia’s nursing homes.
By law, state-licensed nursing homes must comply with federal and state laws and standards. By regulation, the Health Commissioner “may impose such administrative sanctions or take such actions as are appropriate for violation of any of the standards or statutes or for abuse or neglect of persons in care.”
It is time.
I hope that she will pose a challenge to her Office of Licensure and Certification (OLC), of which I am a public admirer, that goes something like this.
Too many Virginia nursing homes are measured objectively by CMS (the Centers for Medicare/Medicaid Services) to be dangerous to the health and welfare of their patients through a combination of:
- inspections that we ourselves conduct;
- staffing measures linked to payroll data; and
- medical quality measures from federal records.
Many have been that way for a very long time.
Current staffing far below CMS requirements seems to indicate that too many have no apparent path to improvement.
Come and see me in a couple of weeks with a list of the absolute worst of them.
And tell me why I should not shut them down to let the rest know that there are minimum standards beneath which they will not be permitted to operate in Virginia.
And one more thing.
Please let me know if there are organizations or individuals, current or recent, whose facilities have appeared regularly enough with the lowest staffing rating to indicate that understaffing may constitute a business model rather than a local exigency.
That too will not be tolerated.
We will take on those challenges here as if they are our own.
This article will identify the absolute worst of the facilities, using government records. The next will look at understaffing trends among owners. Continue reading