HARRISBURG—Rep. Wendi Thomas (R-Bucks) will introduce legislation to require the establishment of a registry of medical directors in nursing homes, personal care homes and assisted living facilities.
“Medical directors and physicians who oversee the clinical care provided in post-acute and long-term care settings are more engaged than ever before, as evident in their response with the rapidly evolving COVID-19 crisis,” Thomas said. “Pennsylvania does not maintain a registry of this crucial leadership role in long-term care, making it more difficult for state and local public health agencies to identify this physician resource in order to provide assistance in the preparation for and response to the pandemic.”
Thomas worked closely with Dr. Daniel Haimowitz, a nationally renowned expert in long-term care, past president of the Pennsylvania Medical Directors Association and founder of the Bucks Long-Term Care Consortium, in the development of this legislation.
“Medical directors across our state have proven their leadership in the care of residents of our nursing homes and personal care/assisted living facilities,” Haimowitz said. “This bill will help ensure access to resources that protect this vulnerable population.”
Thomas’s legislation, House Bill 2792, would require maintenance of a registry of medical directors to be utilized by the Department of Health and the Department of Human Services.
“This registry would be of enormous value for public health agencies not only during the current COVID-19 pandemic but also during any health crisis such as influenza, norovirus and other seasonal outbreaks along with other emergency uses,” Thomas said. “It would establish improved communication avenues with medical long-term care leadership for educational opportunities for attending physicians and nurse practitioners/physician assistants, collaboration between organizations and compliance with state-mandated regulations.”
Haimowitz, an internist and geriatrician in Levittown, believes a registry would provide significant value with minimal cost and effort. “While just a beginning step, it’s an important measure for collaboration between physician leaders in long-term care and public health agencies,” he said. “Thanks to Representative Thomas’ efforts, this could also be model legislation for other states to adopt across the country, and even for federal legislation.”
In addition, the bill increases transparency as nursing home residents and their families would have a right to know the physician who is charged with the vital tasks of coordinating the medical care given in the facility.
“It is critical to provide current information and access to best practices to other physicians, government officials and health care providers. A registry would be an effective communication channel during this health crisis,” Thomas said.
Representative Wendi Thomas
178th Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: David Foster