County leaders push for stronger oversight for skilled nursing facilities amid coronavirus pandemic

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors will be asked to create the position of inspector general for oversight of skilled nursing facilities, which account for more than half the county’s coronavirus death toll.

Under the proposal, the inspector general would develop recommendations on strengthening oversight and improving long-term operations.

As of Wednesday, 1,033 people in so-called institutional settings have died of COVID-19 in LA County and the vast majority were residents of skilled nursing facilities, according to county Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer. That toll is 52% of the 1,970 countywide COVID-19 deaths.

In addition, the total number of infections among residents is nearing 6,800. Thousands of staff members have also been infected.

In Long Beach, skilled nursing facilities have also been hit hard, accounting for 48 of the city’s 62 deaths as of Tuesday. Of the city’s total 1,362 positive cases, 395 are connected to long-term care facilities.

The inspector general motion by Supervisors Mark Ridley-Thomas and Kathryn Barger will be up for a vote at the May 26 board meeting.

“While some skilled nursing homes may be doing their best to respond to COVID-19, we’ve seen hundreds of deaths at these facilities, tragically exposing the urgent need for stronger oversight across the industry,” Ridley-Thomas said in a statement.

Barger said the ability to assess and oversee the facilities must be greatly improved.

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