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Against the backdrop of Pennsylvanians living longer and the demand for services increasing, long-term care facilities across Pennsylvania will share in a $14.2 million windfall from the federal government to enhance services for residents, the state Health Department said Tuesday.
The money, awarded through the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, will be doled out to 127 facilities in 43 of the state’s 67 counties, the agency said in a statement.
The money will “help the facilities improve workforce development, staff retention, and infrastructure that supports infection prevention control and emergency preparedness, and more,” acting state Health Secretary Dr. Debra Bogen said.
“All of that leads to better care for residents,” Bogen said, adding that Democratic Gov. Josh Shapiro’s first budget calls for spending $1.9 million on regulatory oversight efforts. All the better to “help ensure long-term care facilities provide safe and stable services for residents,” Bogen said.
That targeted investment in the nursing home workforce and staff retention issues comes at a pivotal time for the industry, with workers complaining of burnout brought on by profound staff shortages.
That issue was the the main issue of a roundtable in Beaver County last weekend convened by U.S. Rep. Chris Deluzio, D-17th District, who heard firsthand from nursing home workers, the Capital-Star’s Kim Lyons reported.
The freshman Congressman was among those who signed on to a letter earlier this month from U.S. Reps. Lloyd Doggett D-Texas, and Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., to the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), Lyons reported.
The lawmakers urged CMS to establish “robust nursing home staffing standards to ensure residents receive comprehensive, quality care,” to ensure workers have adequate staffing and support.
“Every family in Pennsylvania deserves to have safe, reliable care for folks who need it,” Deluzio told a group of nurses who gathered Saturday at a union hall in Beaver.
“We expect there to be 4 million older Pennsylvanians —a third of the population—by 2030. There are going to be people that need this care that you and your co- workers provide. This is a crisis that exists now and will continue to get worse if we don’t do some of the things I think we need to talk about today,” he said.
Matthew Yarnell, president of SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania, which represents the workers, said they’ve been raising the alarms around the care crisis even before the pandemic
“So we’ve had a systematic problem in the way in which we treat our seniors and folks with disabilities in the Commonwealth going across the country pre-[COVID-19],” he said.
The federal grant money was awarded through the Long-Term Care Quality Investment Pilot program, which was open to skilled nursing facilities, personal care homes, assisted living facilities, and intermediate care facilities who are enrolled in the state’s LTC RISE program’s quality improvement work initiative, the state Health Department said.
Philadelphia’s Department of Public Health received separate federal funding for facilities in Philadelphia County.
The money was “awarded to applicants using a variety of factors including the Social Vulnerability Index based on zip code level data, and the number of Medicaid days or number of residents with Supplemental Security Income,” the Health Department said in its statement.
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