HARRISBURG, Pa .– Pennsylvania will no longer require nursing homes to report their COVID-19 cases and deaths directly to the state. The Department of Health ended the requirement on Friday and updated its website, directing citizens to the federal government’s COVID-19 nursing home website to find the data.
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In May, 11 Investigates reported that the state’s public database of nursing home COVID numbers was riddled with missing information and inaccuracies, an issue that continued throughout the pandemic. .
Five days after our report, the ministry amended some puzzling questions and allowed nursing homes to report weekly instead of daily to try and resolve the issue. Now the state has decided to do away with its own data collection system and will rely on the federal government instead.
11 Investigations discovered Laura’s death was among thousands of COVID deaths not included in the state’s database after we started asking questions.
“If you don’t care about your data, then you don’t care about the people who make up that data, including my sister,” Campbell said, as she called on the state to fix the problem.
The state has required nursing homes to report their number of COVID cases and deaths daily since the start of the pandemic, and has publicly shared the data each week on its COVID-19 dashboard for facilities. long-term care.
The state blamed nursing homes for the problem, saying they communicated information incorrectly, but 11 surveys found confusing questions and technical issues with the state’s reporting software, Survey 123, were part of the problem.
Many nursing homes have been frustrated with issues with the state’s data collection process, claiming that they have reported their COVID numbers to the state, but are not showing up in the database. data.
Quality Life Services, which has 10 nursing homes in the area, did not realize that some of its facilities were on the “no data” list.
QLS administrator Paul Nicholas told us he entered the numbers every morning and even received confirmation from the state that he had received the data.
He was surprised when Channel 11 showed him state data indicating that his facility was not submitting any data.
“Very shocked and disappointed knowing how much time I spend daily reporting,” Nichols said.
Many nursing homes have complained for months that submitting data to the state was redundant, as they already submit the same information to the federal government every week.
Now, with this ruling, the state is removing the burden on nursing homes to report the same data twice.
“It’s a relief not to have to wrestle with this website anymore. However, it’s still frustrating to have taken so long. We made it clear that we were submitting the data, but we didn’t see it posted on the website, ”said Mary Susan Tack-Yurek, Co-Owner of QLS.
Tack-Yurek says she hopes this will lead to fewer problems with missing and inaccurate COVID data in the future.
“I think the data will hopefully be more consistent because we are submitting it through one source and the Department of Health is going to use the federal data that we are already submitting,” Tack-Yurek said.
The Department of Health declined to interview 11 investigations into the change in reporting requirements, but provided comment via email.
“By switching to using federal data, it can deliver consistent data to the public through an accessible dashboard; and avoiding redundant efforts allows nursing home administrators (to have) more time to focus on residents and make accurate reports week after week, ”said DOH deputy press secretary Maggi Barton .
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