HARRISBURG—Legislation introduced by Rep. Wendi Thomas (R-Bucks) to require the establishment of a registry of medical directors in nursing homes, personal care homes and assisted living facilities has unanimously passed the House.
“From the outset of the coronavirus pandemic, our nursing homes were overwhelmed as seven of every 10 deaths in Pennsylvania attributed to COVID-19 have been among nursing and long-term care home residents,” Thomas said. “Complicating this, there was no informational resource available to help the administration or the Legislature better communicate directly to the physician leadership to understand and address the needs of those living in our long-term care facilities. House Bill 2792
will change that and help ensure access to resources that will help protect our at-risk population.”
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.
“As the fight against COVID-19 is ever-changing, we need to engage medical directors and physicians who oversee the clinical care of those most vulnerable to the coronavirus,” Thomas said. “Unfortunately, Pennsylvania does not maintain a registry of those in this crucial leadership role. That makes it 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 crafted her bill with input from 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.
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.”
“I believe 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.”
House Bill 2792 now moves on to the Senate for consideration.
Representative Wendi Thomas
178th Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: David Foster