Monday, December 20, 2021
Well, as I write this, it looks at though the world is heading for another COVID surge. Thus, this recent article from Kaiser Health News is particularly timely. After ‘Truly Appalling’ Death Toll in Nursing Homes, California Rethinks Their Funding opens with this sobering statistic: about 1 of every 8 of those California residents who died due to COVID resided in SNFs which translates to roughly 9,400, with an added 56,275 SNF residents with confirmed COVID who survived it. As a response, the article notes, that the Governor's office is looking into a proposal that ties SNF funding to performance, with "those that meet new quality standards would get a larger share of state funding than those that don’t."
There will be several hurdles, and the industry is gearing up to oppose it while families of those who died are prepared to support it. For example, the CEO of California Association of Health Facilities, doesn't think the facilities should bear the blame, since "residents naturally at higher risk than the rest of the public, [and] facilities were forced to accept hospital transfer patients who had not been tested for the virus, they couldn’t get adequate supplies of personal protective equipment, and they suffered as staff members got covid in the community and then brought it into work." The counter-point from various studies notes that SNFs "with fewer nursing staff members experienced significantly higher covid infection and death rates. That devastating outcome is bolstering a two-decades-long argument by patient advocates that nursing homes must hire more workers."
Staffing is not the only issue, and the article explores others, including the profits made by the various chains. California is not alone in considering actions to improve quality of care. I'm sure there will future blogs on this topic.