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golden nursing homeA six-month investigation headed by PennLive revealed dozens of people died at the hands of Pennsylvania nursing home errors and neglect. Those homes, for the majority, were found to have not been punished by the state, and investigators are suspected of not properly reporting misconduct.

Pennsylvania Senator Bob Casey voiced the need for the state Department of Health to execute an internal investigation regarding the cases.

“When our state’s seniors and families make the decision to enter a nursing home, they are placing a life in those homes administrators’ hands,” said Casey in a statement. “If even one life is lost due to the negligence of these facilities, we need to step back, ask why and see what changes are needed.”

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Auditor General Eugene DePasqualeA 91-page audit was recently released by Auditor General Eugene DePasquale regarding the need for Pennsylvania’s Department of Health to buckle down on enforcement in nursing homes.

The audit, as reported by abc27, involved 13 findings and 23 recommendations. The Department was reported to have shirked their duties when it came to documentation, following proper protocol and enforcement. In turn, this carelessness led to the neglect of nursing home residents as well as unsanitary conditions.

In a press conference, DePasquale stated, “What this tells me is the Department of Health was not looking. And when you don’t look, there’s no way to discover problems.”

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Nurse Abuses Patient in Nursing Home
The Pennsylvania Department of Health has significantly buckled down on its penalty enforcement for nursing home violations over the last year after enduring much criticism.

The department released data showing that from July to December of 2015, fines and violations across the 700 nursing homes in Pennsylvania more than tripled compared to the earlier six months.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that The Department of Health was receiving criticism in the form of a lawsuit filed not against the department directly, but rather nursing homes under their supervision. Back in July, the Pennsylvania attorney general’s office filed a lawsuit against nursing home chain Golden Living Center, which controlled 36 homes across Pennsylvania. The lawsuit pointed out that the homes had errors in the care of its residents, which went unpunished by the Department of Health.

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Cops outside of Voorhees Center in New Jersey
A nursing home in New Jersey has been under investigation by FOX 29 for serious abuse accusations to the home’s residents. The charges, as reported by FOX 29 reporter Jeff Cole, include cover-up and neglect, and they have the family members of the residents completely enraged.

One of the licensed practical nurses of Voorhees Center nursing home, Nikki Thompson, was fired after her eight-year stint with the home. After reporting abusive and negligent behavior within her workplace, Thompson received a threatening note in relation to a specific image taken in the facility. The picture was of one of the female residents with dementia, 85-year-old Eleanor Hallowell, who was tied to her wheelchair with a bed sheet.

“I guess because they felt like they couldn’t deal with her, they tied her to a wheelchair,” Thompson told FOX 29.

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Proposed wage cuts at the Phoebe Ministries Nursing Home in Allentown have caused 400 healthcare workers to fight back. The company wants to cut wages as up to $5 an hour, a decision that will send many of the workers into poverty. In turn, such a cut would also lower the care of the residents in the home.

“This proposal means a pay cut of about $10,000 for me. I don’t know how I will raise my family,” said Phoebe housekeeper Deb Edelman to

The proposed cuts are not only harmful to the employees of the facility, but the entire community as well. Lowered wages mean lower ability to keep the hard working employees on staff. When there are fewer employees, the problems continue to mound with extreme overtime hours, short staffing and high turnover.

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The Pennsylvania Department of Health has put together a task force that will work to find new ways to advance quality improvement in Pennsylvania’s long-term care facilities. In the wake of allegations of inadequate care in 14 nursing homes operated by Golden Senior Living between 2008 and 2014, Secretary of Health Karen Murphy, said the state will take “immediate steps” to address the issue in her announcement about the task force earlier this month. “I am pleased to announce the Department of Health has formed a task force to determine what additional measures can be taken to ensure enhanced quality in these facilities.”

Nursing home abuse is all too common across the United States. A study done by the staff of the Special Investigations Division of the House Government Reform Committee found that 30 percent of nursing homes in the United States — 5,283 facilities — were cited for almost 9,000 instances of abuse over a recent two-year period, from January 1999 to January 2001. Types of abuse demonstrated in nursing homes includes physical, sexual, emotional & psychological, neglect, abandonment, self-neglect and resident-to-resident abuse.

Today there are about 1.4 million residents spread across 17,000 nursing homes across the United States. Pennsylvania is home to about 700 of these nursing homes. According to Nursing Home Report Cards, a Families for Better Care non-profit project that analyzes, compares and ranks state’s nursing home quality by utilizing staffing data compiled by the Kaiser Health Foundation, performance measures from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ Nursing Home Compare, and the Office of State Long-Term Care Ombudsman complaint data, PA’s nursing homes were ranked as 26th best in the nation in 2013. In 2014, PA fell 6 spots down to 32nd in the nation with an overall grade of D. However, PA ranked among the best in the nation in Severe Deficiencies with only 14 severe deficiencies in 2014.

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Did you know that May is Older Americans Month? Each year the Department of Aging has a theme to celebrate Older Americans Month and raise awareness on key issues regarding older Americans. The theme this year is “Unleash The Power Of Aging.”

The idea behind “Unleash The Power Of Aging” is to recognize the older members of our communities who are active in the community. Much of the focus has been put on those older Pennsylvanians who are volunteers for many different organizations in our state.

Some of these programs include: Foster Grandparents, who help and mentor children with special needs and Senior Companions, who help the elderly who have lost their mobility so that they can stay in their homes. More information on these and other programs can be found on the department of Aging website at

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Did you know that many workers at skilled nursing facilities, over 80,000 in Pennsylvania alone, rely on government assistance in one form or another? The median wage for these workers in PA is $13.01 per hour as of 2014. Most of these workers, especially those with families to support, rely on public assistance programs to make ends meet.

Yesterday a minimum wage strike took place on Tax Day, in which tens of thousands of workers, many of them fast food workers, took to the streets to protest the low minimum wage in the country. This has been a highly debated issue recently that we will probably see as an issue to be debated in the upcoming election.

The debate is mostly focused on the effects this wage increase would have on our country. Workers are asking for a $15 minimum wage nationwide. This would majorly decrease the amount of workers who rely on public assistance. What would the effects of this be for the rest of the country? That’s not entirely certain. Many opponents of the wage increase are claiming that it will lead to increased prices for consumers, including an increase in the cost of skilled nursing facilities, as well as an overall loss of jobs.

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The Centers for Medicare Services are making some changes to the rating scale for nursing homes. Many nursing homes in PA are worried that this may cause their ratings to go down.

Currently the rating system for nursing homes is on a 1 to 5 star scale. With eleven new measures of quality expected to be included in the updated rating system, about one out of every eight nursing homes in PA could lose on or two stars under the new system.

Some of the new criteria will include staffing levels at skilled nursing facilities, which has been under scrutiny for some time now. This focus was intensified by a recent New York Times article highlighting the issue.

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Due to substandard care at over 30 nursing home facilities, Extendicare Health Services will now have to pay $38 million in a settlement. The investigation began when two whistleblowers within the company filed complaints that the company was billing Medicare and Medicaid for substandard care, and unnecessary therapy.

The violations Extendicare was investigated for include failure to follow safety protocols, failure to have enough staff on the clock, and failure to provide the appropriate care for residents.  Some residents may have been injured due to this negligence including falls, head injuries, bed sores, fractures, malnutrition and other injuries that are very dangerous to older residents.

The 33 nursing home facilities in question were located in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Kentucky, Indiana, Washington, Wisconsin and Minnesota.