According to a recent report from The Plain Dealer, the state of Ohio does not inspect its nursing homes appropriately, failing to meet federal deadlines.
Apparently, it is due to the Ohio Department of Health being understaffed, with just one inspector per six nursing homes, while neighboring states have one inspector per four nursing homes.
The deadline has not been met since the year 2011, making Ohio the fourth worst state when it comes to nursing home inspections. The Plain Dealer obtained the information through the Freedom of Information Act.
Not caring enough for nursing home residents?
According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the interval for nursing home inspections should be 12.9 months, roughly once per year. In average, Ohio’s nursing homes are inspected once every 13.8 months, which is still an improvement from the 14.4 months interval that was registered in 2015.
“At present, Ohio ranks behind Idaho, Kansas, and Arizona in terms of the longest average time between inspections of the same facility, according to federal records. Idaho and Kansas averaged more than 15 months between inspections, while Arizona took more than 14 months,” report John Caniglia and Jo Ellen Corrigan for The Plain Dealer.
The state of Ohio makes use of 153 inspectors, tasked with the inspection of the state’s 960 nursing homes to ensure a healthy and safe environment for its residents. The Ohio Department of Health processes over 2,000 complaints each year. 31 deaths in Ohio nursing homes in the last three years were attributed to “issues of care.”
The federal government fined 260 Ohio nursing homes, totaling $6.57 million.
Nursing home specialists assure that this is unacceptable, due to the fact that people in nursing homes require constant quality care. Inspectors are meant to verify that certain conditions are met for each facility to assure that the residents are not being abused and have all of their basic health care needs covered.
According to Families for Better Care, a group that oversees nursing homes throughout the country, Ohio inspectors cannot accomplish the goal because there are not enough specialists at hand. Families for Better Care Director Brian Lee compared the situation as if there were not enough firefighters to respond to emergencies.
The Ohio Department of Health responded to the report, assuring that they are working towards the shortening of inspection intervals. They note that over the past two years, the state has seen an improvement and that they are “committed” to accomplish federal requirements, entirely revamping their inspection process.
To try and circumvent the lack of inspectors, Ohio paid its nursing home specialists $1.08 million in overtime. This does not reduce the claim that most of Ohio inspectors have an experience of one year or less.
Apparently, the reason why the state has failed to keep its inspector staff is the entry level salary, which sits at $31,014. In comparison, a nurse can make $20,000 more in a similar entry-level position.