Nursing home understaffing hurt patient safety, House panel finds

The Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis released a report Sept. 21 on for-profit nursing home chains during the first months of the COVID-19 pandemic, finding most were understaffed, leading to dangerous situations for patients.

The Select Subcommittee, chaired by Rep. James Clyburn, D-S.C., investigated how large, for-profit nursing home chains responded to the pandemic from March through June 2020.

These findings were uncovered through the Select Subcommittee's ongoing investigation into five for-profit nursing home chains that collectively operated over 850 skilled nursing facilities each of which had significant COVID-19 outbreaks. The facilities housed over 80,000 residents as of June 2020.

Four findings:

  • Many nursing homes were severely understaffed, leading to neglect and negative health outcomes due to deficient care.
  • For-profit nursing home chains did not supply their staff with adequate personal protective equipment.
  • Many nursing homes pressured staff to work despite having symptoms or testing positive. In one case, an employee was fired for staying home with symptoms, the report said.
  • Chains used convoluted corporate structures to help obscure profits and avoid legal and regulatory accountability, the report stated.

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