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Legislators working to improve state's nursing home reputation

Reported by: Sandra Gonzalez
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Updated: 8/15/2014 8:57 pm
LAS VEGAS (KSNV – Nevada's reputation on nursing homes has not been high, and state legislators hope to change this perception. A bill is being drafted to try to improve the situation.

Nursing homes are an essential part of the Las Vegas valley and will be even more so, as baby boomers continue to age.

Since Nevada has been under scrutiny for nursing home quality, a bill draft is moving forward to tackle concerns about skilled nursing facilities.

"You've got a wonderful senior population, and we want to make sure it's cared for properly. We also want to balance the needs of the skilled facilities that are providing the services to actually be able to handle the staffing ratios that we're going to suggest," said state Sen. Mark Hutchison.

This would start with staffing ratios: medical employees compared to residents. State legislators on the committee on senior citizens, veterans and adults with special needs understand the intent would be helpful to the industry. However, they also wonder if this could backfire in some parts of the state. Assemblywoman Ellen Spiegel says worse-case scenario: shutdown because of an employee shortage.

"If they would ultimately be closed because, what would happen in let's say rural communities or other parts of Nevada where we might not have enough staff or be able to attract enough staff," Spiegel said.

Another issue is response time, a potential 20-minute maximum window for staff to respond to residents who push a call light for help.

"That seems to be reasonable to me. We're going to have hearings on that. We want to make sure that's going to be doable for the facilities," Hutchison said.

Nevada's report card on nursing homes from a nursing home resident advocacy group was ranked at an "F" last year, so legislators plan to look at all sides of this bill and try to turn to it around.


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