With One-Fifth of Virginia Nursing Homes Not Meeting Staffing Standards, Stakeholders Divided Over Solutions WJHL


RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) – One-fifth of Virginia nursing homes fail to meet expected staffing levels by federal standards. This increases the risk of poor quality care, especially for low-income and black Virginians.

That’s according to a new study presented to the General Assembly’s Joint Commission on Health Care. Lawmakers are considering various legislative solutions ahead of the 2022 session.

This report also found that Virginia has more nursing homes with low personnel ratings than other states.

“Small-staffed facilities are more likely to have poor quality measurements in health inspectorate assessments,” said Kyu Kang, deputy health policy analyst. “The lack of staff has a negative impact on the quality of care as well as on the well-being of staff and residents. ”

Among the possible fixes under consideration are mandatory staffing standards. Currently, Virginia is in the minority among the 16 states that do not require a minimum ratio, according to Kang.

Dignity for the Elderly Executive Director Sam Kukich said her mother-in-law lost 65 pounds and had more than four dozen falls in an understaffed nursing home. His story was detailed in an investigation two years ago.

“Family members have spent many years waiting and hoping for change and their family members are dying. We keep repeating the same things over and over and no one overhears us, ”Kukich said. “Please don’t wait another year to impose ratios. ”

Industry leaders oppose the push for requirements.

This is a new investigation from the Virginia Center for Assisted Living – which represents about 350 long-term care facilities statewide – suggests that staff exhaustion from COVID-19 is exacerbating labor shortages. long-standing work.

He found that 81% of long-term care providers believe the situation has worsened in 2021 compared to 2020, which they see as “the height of the clinical nightmare”.

Almost all respondents reported vacancies in critical positions, with 96% seeking CNAs, 92% missing LPNs, and 75% trying to fill RN positions.

When asked about their current staffing situation, 59% indicated that there were few or no candidates to meet their additional staffing needs. This is the case despite wage increases and widespread bonuses.

“We want to hire staff. The truth is, the workforce is just not there right now. We have seen people leave health care. They don’t come to work at our facility and it couldn’t be a worse time to frankly consider a staffing mandate, ”said Deborah L. Petrine, President and CEO of Commonwealth Care of Roanoke.

The Virginia Department of Health said the task force needs to consider how to enforce compliance with any new standards it sets, stressing that the agency is limited to issuing a remedial plan, revoking license or to suspend new admissions.

“VDH does not want the good intention of a policy to be thwarted by a lack of viable enforcement,” said Rebekah Allen, senior policy analyst at VDH.

As an alternative to a mandate, a Virginia Beach vendor suggested establishing a timeline to comply with the federal standard, followed by a reassessment after which those who continue to fall below expected staffing levels could see new ones. admissions suspended or have their license revoked. Meanwhile, he said the state could look at ownership changes for possible problems and provide targeted funding to help the 21% of struggling households.

The nursing home industry is also urging the General Assembly to increase Medicaid reimbursement rates. Several speakers said that the current rate does not cover the cost of care and makes it difficult to manage the finances of institutions, which has a negative impact on staffing.

Meanwhile, the Virginia Community College System is asking nearly $ 53 million over two years to hire more teachers and build nursing labs, which will allow them to increase their enrollment. VCCS predicts that by 2028, the investment will enable them to train 3,500 graduate nurses each year, up from 2,000 currently.

The working group is due to meet again on November 9 to approve various policy options. The entire committee is expected to vote on these options on December 7. The proposals will then be considered by the full General Assembly in 2022.

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