Committee examines patient outcomes, nursing home care

Rep. Mullins hosts hearing on challenges, successes in health care

SCRANTON, May 13 – Pennsylvania health care is failing its aging population, experts detailed during a House Majority Policy Committee hearing. Access to care, reimbursement and skilled-nursing staff are all concerns, according to health care experts. 

“My heart breaks for an aging and vulnerable population caught in a current health care crisis,” said Rep. Kyle Mullins, who hosted the hearing and represents portions of Lackawanna County. “Expert testimony detailed the many challenges, and they explained why they hope positive action at the state and federal levels can be made to help our residents.”

Experts and lawmakers noted the challenges and issues that presented themselves not only during the COVID-19 pandemic but also in the years following the pandemic. Statewide more than 20 nursing homes have closed since the start of the pandemic. Supply of long-term care is not keeping up with demand, and no part of the state is immune.

“Issues with long-term care creates ripple effects throughout Pennsylvania communities,” House Majority Policy Chairman Ryan Bizzarro said. “When patients are unable to find local long-term care options, a backlog is created at hospitals that ultimately can end in more patients not being admitted to a hospital.”

Lawmakers and experts talked about the need for legislation to improve the recruitment and development of skilled health care workers.

“Funding and workforce challenges are at the heart of many of the issues facing health care facilities,” said Rep. Bridget Kosierowski, who worked in the health care sector as a registered nurse for 25 years. “Recruitment and retention are important, but we are also hearing that facility directors simply cannot fill all their openings.” 

Monday’s House Majority Policy hearing featured testimony from Bill Conaboy, the president and CEO at Allied Services Integrated Health System; James Cooney, the vice president of skilled nursing operations at Allied; Noelle Lyon-Kovaleski, an administrator at Carbondale Nursing and Rehabilitation Center; Megan Barbour, the director of long-term care transformation office at the Pennsylvania Department of Health; Jeanne Parisi, the deputy secretary for quality assurance at the Pennsylvania Department of Health; and Zach Shamberg, the president and CEO at Pennsylvania Health Care Association.

Photos to be used for publication can be found at Testimony from the hearing can be found here. A link to a livestream of the hearing can be found here.

The Policy Committee, which has now hosted 23 events this year, will host more events this week in Lackawanna County.