DeWine launches Nursing Home Quality and Accountability Task Force

COLUMBUS — Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine has signed Executive Order 2023-06D, officially creating the Ohio Governor’s Nursing Home Quality and Accountability Task Force.

During his 2023 State of the State Address, DeWine announced his plan to form the task force to study issues surrounding quality of life and quality of care in Ohio’s nursing homes. The governor also announced during his address that the group would be tasked with completing their work on an expedited timeline. In keeping with this directive, the task force will travel to communities across the state between now and May to hear directly from nursing home residents and their loved ones about their experiences and issue a report of their findings.

“I promised that this task force would move quickly because we can’t afford to wait,” Governor 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 ranked 39th in the most recent Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services overall Quality Star Ratings, which scores all Medicare/Medicaid-funded nursing facilities between 1 (much below average) and 5 (much above average) stars on a variety of categories, including overall quality. Ohio’s average overall nursing home quality currently ranks in the bottom quartile of all states.

Additionally, many of the state’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 added. “We need to take action.”

The task force will be chaired by Ursel J. McElroy, director of the Ohio Department of Aging (ODA).

“It is my honor to be chosen by Gov. DeWine to lead this effort. He has made it crystal clear that excellence needs to be the expectation for all of Ohio’s nursing facilities. And so, this task force will work quickly and collaboratively toward accomplishing this goal,” McElroy said. “We are going to put people first in everything we do. 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.”

Joining the task force will be a wide range of individuals representing the expansive voices of this community, including representatives of those with lived experience, family caregivers, nursing home administrators and state regulators including:

• Ursel McElroy, director, Ohio Department of Aging Chair

• Bruce Vanderhoff, director, Ohio Department of Health Vice-Chair

• Trey Addison, director of Public Policy and Government Affairs, Alzheimer’s Association

• Robert Applebaum, professor and director of the Ohio Long-Term Care Research Project, Scripps Gerontology Center at Miami University

• Gen. Deborah Ashenhurst, director, Ohio Department of Veteran Services

• Blaine Brockman, chair of the Elder and Special Needs Law Committee, Ohio State Bar Association

• Jessica Coleman, president, Ohio Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care

• Maureen Corcoran, director, Ohio Department of Medicaid

• Lori Criss, Director, Ohio Department of Mental Health & Addiction Services

• Jacqueline DeGenova, State Long-Term Care Ombudsman, Ohio Office of the State Long-Term Care Ombudsman

• Kim Hauck, director, Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities

• Holly Holtzen, state director, AARP Ohio

• Ira Kaplan, co-chair of Long Term Care Committee, Jewish Federations of America

• Jennifer Kucera, Disability Rights advocate

• Greg Miller, vice chairman, Board of Executives of Long-Term Services and Supports

• Chris Murray, chief executive officer, Academy of Senior Health Sciences

• Pete Van Runkle, executive director, Ohio Health Care Association

• Susan Wallace, chief executive officer, LeadingAge Ohio

In addition to the community listening sessions, the task force will hold 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 on Thursday, March 2, 2023, in Columbus at the Ohio Department of Public Safety’s Shipley Atrium.

The first community listening session will be held on Friday, March 3, 2023, 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: Ohioans who are not able to attend the in-person events, but who would still like to make their voices heard, 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.”