After lawmakers scaled back a California nursing homes licensing bill, critics said it would let the worst operators thrive, but other advocates insisted it was still a step in the right direction.
About 11,500 long-term care center workers are now sick with COVID. “It’s been like one coworker after another, after another, everyone getting sick,” one nursing assistant said.
In a parallel problem to patient ‘dumping,’ many poor nursing home residents find themselves stuck inside facilities and unable to return home.
A CalMatters investigation unpacks the factors that result in thousands staying in California nursing homes against their will.
California nursing homes have filed more than 400 lawsuits since 2016 to appeal state citations and fines alleging poor patient care. Regulators downgraded nearly a third of sanctions involving a death. Advocates say the appeals system favors nursing homes.
California Department of Public Health officials say they cannot fix their mistake, amid cries the licensing system for nursing homes is “broken and ineffective.”
COVID-19 cases at California’s nursing homes have plummeted 98% since December. But long-term care facilities say they are waiting for state guidance before reopening to family visits. “The sacrifice our seniors have made has been very, very difficult and caused a lot of harm. Now is the time to stop sacrificing them,” one doctor said.
The pandemic had limited loved ones to window or patio visits – if at all – but new guidance lifts restrictions in those 46 counties with better virus control.
State health officials were caught off guard by the federal government’s plan, as the tests are less accurate and may be of limited use in California’s nursing homes.
Once a rarity, state takeovers of on-the-edge nursing homes are expected to become more common as the pandemic tips facilities further into chaos.