RICHMOND, Va. -- Members of a Virginia legislative commission are recommending that all nursing homes in Virginia meet a baseline staffing level.
The recommendation is a major change after bills that would have imposed minimum staffing mandates at nursing homes failed for 17 straight years.
Earlier this year, the General Assembly asked the Joint Commission on Health Care to study whether Virginia's requirements appropriately address quality of care in nursing homes.
The request came after Republican Senator Jennifer Kiggans, who is a geriatric nurse practitioner, tried to get a bill passed that would impose minimum staffing requirements at Virginia's nursing homes.
The bill failed in committee.
In a CBS6 investigation earlier this year, the former medical director at the Canterbury Rehabilitation and Healthcare Center, where 50 patients died from COVID-19, told us staffing shortages are a death sentence for people in nursing homes.
A state study completed last year found that of the 28 nursing homes in Virginia certified by the federal government, 44% of them received a below-average or much below-average score on staffing levels.
Canterbury's staffing is rated much below average.
Opposition to minimum staffing requirements has often centered around the cost, but to try to address that problem. The commission is also recommending that the state increase Medicaid reimbursements to nursing homes.
Still, the industry opposes minimum staffing requirements because they argue there are not enough people who work in the industry to support the staffing requirements.
Now that the Joint Commission on Health Care has endorsed staffing requirements, there is a good chance the legislature will too.