Governor signs executive order launching task force to address quality of nursing homes

Credit: Barbara J. Perenic

Credit: Barbara J. Perenic

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine on Friday signed an executive order creating the Ohio Governor’s Nursing Home Quality and Accountability Task Force.

Ohio has almost 960 nursing homes in the state, DeWine said in his executive order. While this ranks Ohio third in the list of states with the most nursing homes, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has ranked Ohio 39th in terms of quality. According to DeWine, 40% of Ohio nursing homes have had a decline in their Overall Nursing Facility CMS Star Rating since 2018.

The state task force, which was a topic DeWine touched on in his 2023 State of the State address, will study issues surrounding quality of life and quality of care in Ohio’s nursing home on an expedited timeline. The task force will travel to communities across the state between now and May to hear from nursing home residents and their loved ones about their experiences before issuing a report on its findings.

“I promised that this task force would move quickly because we can’t afford to wait,” DeWine said. “While many of our state’s nursing homes are very good, others are not meeting the standards we expect for those caring for our older loved ones. All too often – we hear of preventable tragedies occurring: medication errors, failure to provide care, poor infection prevention and control and sometimes even elder abuse.”

Ohio’s average overall nursing home quality currently ranks in the bottom quartile of all states. Additionally, the state said many of the Ohio’s nursing facilities are inconsistent in their compliance with standards of care, being forced to correct the same deficiencies repeatedly.

“This is not acceptable in Ohio,” DeWine said. “We need to take action.”

The task force is chaired by Ursel J. McElroy, director of the Ohio Department of Aging. The task force also will include representatives of those with lived experience, family caregivers, nursing home administrators and state regulators.

“We are going to put people first in everything we do,” McElroy said. “Nursing home residents, their caregivers, family members and friends will be at the forefront of this conversation from day one, because no voices are more valuable in this discussion than those of the people living it every day.”

The task force will hold community listening sessions, along with regular meetings to discuss public input and formulate recommendations on how to improve quality of care and quality of life in all Ohio nursing homes.

The task force’s inaugural meeting will be held Thursday in Columbus at the Ohio Department of Public Safety’s Shipley Atrium. The first community listening session will be held the following day at Columbus State Community College’s Event Center at Mitchell Hall.

A full schedule of events will be released soon and will be added online at Ohioans who are not able to attend the in-person events will be able to provide their insights on the task force webpage.

“We want to provide every avenue possible for Ohioans to share their stories, because the more that people participate, the more of an impact we will be able to make,” McElroy said. “Gaining a full picture of what residents are experiencing will enable us to deliver a comprehensive report to the governor with actionable steps we can take to improve the quality of our nursing homes, as we work to achieve our overarching vision of making Ohio the best place to age in the nation.”

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