DOH: Public Comment Period for Proposed Improvements to Skilled Nursing

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The Pennsylvania Department of Health provided an update on the fourth and final set of proposed regulations for skilled nursing facilities, which includes updates to align with federal regulations; increases staffing minimums per shift for registered nurses and licensed practical nurses and establishes minimums per shift for nurse aides. This set of proposed regulations was published in the Pennsylvania Bulletin on May 28. At that time, a 30-day public comment period began.

“It is important to establish these minimum staffing requirements per shift to ensure that appropriate care is provided around the clock,” said Acting Department of Health Secretary and Chief Medical Officer Dr Denise Johnson. “This package addresses resident rights and care plans, bringing us more in line with federal requirements and emphasizing person-centered care.”

The bylaws of Pennsylvania’s 685 skilled nursing facilities, home to more than 72,000 people, have not been updated in nearly 25 years.

The ministry encourages all interested stakeholders, including industry groups, resident advocates and the general public to read and comment on the proposed regulations within this timeframe. The rules are published both on the Pennsylvania Bulletin website and the IRCR website and comments can be submitted to the Department of Health by email: [email protected].

This is the latest set of proposed regulations based on the latest research, input from subject matter experts and industry players, and informed by lessons learned during the global COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to addressing the requirements of nurses, the proposed package establishes protections against discrimination based on gender identity or expression, modernizes language and requirements related to the use of restraints, and aligns with federal requirements for resident care plans and resident rights.

The ministry is simultaneously working on final regulations for the first three sets of regulations and will review comments on all four sets before submitting final regulations. The regulations will only apply to the 685 skilled nursing facilities licensed by the Department of Health. Personal care homes and assisted living facilities generally housing residents with less acute health care needs are regulated by the Department of Human Services under separate regulations.

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