Congress examines ‘horrors’ at for-profit nursing homes, blames understaffing

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A corporate organization chart of Genesis Health provided to Congress showing over 700 separate entities. Critics say the byzantine structure can help companies circumvent regulations and only serves to confuse consumers.

Staffing shortages in nursing homes have contributed to neglect and deficient care during the pandemic, according to findings from a congressional survey of owners of 850 for-profit nursing homes.

The findings echo ongoing USA TODAY reports that have revealed the number of people who have died in nursing home conglomerates that own hundreds of homes across the country.

Survey of nursing homes: DIE FOR CARE

The select subcommittee on the coronavirus crisis held a hearing on Wednesday to discuss the reports and potential reforms with experts and nursing home staff.

Representatives pointed to the lack of paid sick leave as pressure for infectious workers to work and spread COVID.

“Paid sick leave for nursing home workers allows staff to care for themselves and their families and keep residents safe,” said Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-NY. “Surprisingly, many care homes do not offer paid sick leave to their workers at all, this puts staff in an impossible situation.

What did the committee point out?

Staffing shortages have plagued nursing homes during COVID-19 both due to increased resident needs and staff illness. The five channels surveyed by the committee were particularly troubled. One was the SavaSeniorCare facility in Georgia, which had only one nurse for every 35 residents per shift.

The committee found that nursing home chains were not providing their workers with adequate personal protective equipment and that some were requiring staff to work even if they had coronavirus symptoms or tested positive.

A cook at a Midwestern facility was found to have a fever of 101 degrees during a screening before entering and was told, ‘to put a damp cloth over her head before her temperature is back’ and allowed to work.

Reviewing information from homes from 2020, the committee found a pattern of management threatening to fire employees if they called in sick, with some saying not to share with colleagues if they had tested positive for COVID-19.

Organization charts show confusing structures

Committee investigators received organizational charts and business listings for five of the largest retirement home chains that showed a byzantine structure they say could help companies evade liability and confuse consumers. .

They highlighted Genesis HealthCare, still the nation’s largest home with more than 350 locations in 26 states. A chart showed over 700 separate corporate entities linked to Genesis.

In one case, the committee found a single Genesis nursing home owned by two corporations, which had 11 flow-through entities between the facility and the ultimate parent company.

In response, a Genesis spokeswoman noted that its staff “put their own lives at risk to care for their patients and residents.”

“That said, as one of the largest skilled nursing providers in the country … it is common for large companies to have varying entities and structures,” the spokeswoman said. Lori Mayer.

LOOK FOR: Find out how homes fared during the winter wave of COVID, 2020-21

The committee noted that it found in its investigation of Genesis, Sava, Ensign, Consulate and Life Care that the companies have undergone a significant name change and reorganization since 2020. Consulate and Ensign lease many, if not all, of their buildings to real estate investment trusts, which benefit from contracts with rent increases annual warranties, according to data compiled by USA TODAY from public records.

What is happening to change some of these issues?

The White House is preparing to use its executive authority to tighten regulation of the industry.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services plans to release new mandatory minimum staffing rules in the spring of 2023.

After: “Permanent shock” for retirement homes? Facilities fail to replace workers who quit after COVID outbreaks

Industry officials, including the American Health Care Association, say without additional funding, they face the impossible task of hiring and paying additional staff. Staff resignations during and since the pandemic have been particularly problematic.

“Our profession faces historic staffing and funding challenges — in part due to insufficient Medicaid funding — that have left many facilities struggling to keep their doors open,” the president said. ‘ACHA, Mark Parkinson, in preparation for Wednesday’s hearing. “Hundreds of care homes have closed as a result, and more will follow without further support.”

Nick Penzenstadler is a reporter with USA TODAY’s investigative team. Reach him at [email protected] or @npenzenstadler, or on Signal at (720) 507-5273.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Nursing homes failed in care in early months of pandemic, report says

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