—As Pennsylvania prepares to distribute COVID-19 vaccines and inoculate residents of long-term care facilities, Rep. Wendi Thomas (R-Bucks) will reintroduce legislation to require the establishment of a registry of medical directors in nursing homes, personal care homes and assisted living facilities.
“As we prepare for vaccine distribution, it’s critical that the administration and the Legislature have the tools necessary to communicate with long-term care facilities that have suffered the most since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic,” Thomas said. “Right now, there is no informational resource available to help us communicate directly with physician leadership in long-term care in order to address the needs of those living in congregate care settings. My legislation will change that and help ensure access to “information and resources that will help protect this vulnerable population who has already suffered from a disproportion number of deaths due to COVID-19.”
“From the outset of the coronavirus pandemic, Pennsylvania’s nursing homes were overwhelmed. Seven of every 10 deaths in Pennsylvania attributed to COVID-19 were among nursing and long-term care home residents,” Thomas said.
Thomas introduced similar legislation in the 2019-20 term. House Bill 2792
, which passed the House unanimously but did not have the opportunity to be voted upon in the Senate, would have required 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 moves to the vaccine phase, we need to engage medical directors and physicians who oversee the clinical care of those most vulnerable to the coronavirus,” Thomas said.
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.”
Thomas will introduce her bill when the House reconvenes in January.
Representative Wendi Thomas
178th Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: David Foster
RepThomas.com / Facebook.com/RepThomas