CSAC Bulletin Article

Assembly Holds Hearing on Skilled Nursing Facilities and COVID-19  

Earlier this week, the Assembly Health Committee and the Aging & Long-Term Care Committee convened a joint oversight hearing to discuss the COVID-19 outbreaks in skilled nursing facilities (SNFs) and gather information about the state’s response.

The hearing focused on issues within SNFs that aided in the spread of COVID-19 throughout the facilities, how the state and SNF leadership have responded to those issues, and plans to ensure the health and safety of SNF staff and patients in these facilities moving forward.

Chaired by Assembly Members Jim Wood and Adrian Nazarian, the meeting featured members of the two committees who relayed information and concerns from their constituents and asked questions of the panelists. Full details of the informational hearing agenda and background materials can be found here.

Panelists representing the state departments addressed how they responded to the outbreaks in SNFs and their plans for SNFs and vulnerable older adults living outside of facilities. The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) presented plans to ensure quality and safety standards for the SNFs, which CDPH oversees. The plan includes: baseline testing for all residents and staff by June 30, followed by regular testing; expansion of the workforce that requires at least one full time Infection Prevention Specialist at every facility, ongoing staff education; developing a more robust state oversight department by increasing the frequency of inspections; utilizing technology with a real-time quality and safety data application; and developing a proactive approach with predictive analytics.

Advocates for the elderly expressed concerns with the initial response by both the state and leaders of the facilities. Issues raised included a lack of personal protective equipment (PPE), lack of SNF staff training and medical director’s certification, unstable facility rates, staff compensation, and the need for more stakeholder engagement.

Committee members asked pointed questions on the Administration’s efforts and the accountability of SNF administrators for procurement of PPE, the state’s assistance with high rates of staff turnover, and oversight of facilities that proved to be high risk. Closing the hearing, Assembly Member Wood suggested that the committees continue to convene to review the ongoing response to this pandemic within these highly vulnerable facilities. The Senate Special Committee on Pandemic Emergency Response convenes a similar hearing on SNFs tomorrow at 9 a.m.

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