PENNSYLVANIA, USA — The Pennsylvania Department of Health released a new list of COVID-19 data for individual nursing homes across the state on Tuesday.
Shortly after, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported some inconsistencies with that data, including a nursing home in Delaware County that had 65 residents who tested positive COVID-19 when there is only enough room for 16 residents at the entire facility.
Health Department spokesperson Nate Wardle acknowledged there were some issues and said "We are working to correct these issues." He attributed the inaccuracies to problems with how local information was entered into a state health database called the National Electronic Disease Surveillance System
Wardle did dispute some parts of the Inquirer article. He wrote in an email, "A significant amount of the data reported to the department, as required by facilities, were only the current counts, not cumulative counts. We are working to make the database that was set up to report this data usable as we receive the necessary information.
The DOH said it is working to ensure it has data for all facilities, including those without cases. Wardle said nursing homes without cases will not be published, however, the department needs to make sure all facilities are reporting the data appropriately, as they were ordered to do as of May 17.
At this time, those facilities who are not reporting, or not reporting properly are not being considered as noncompliant, according to Wardle. He said the Department of Health needs to assist some facilities in getting accounts so they can report and answer questions regarding reporting.
"Moving forward, we will be mandating that facilities are reporting, and reporting the necessary information as has been ordered," said the spokesperson.
According to the Department of Human Services, more than 45,000 Pennsylvanians live in more than 1,200 personal care homes and assisted living residences throughout the commonwealth, and these residents are some of the most vulnerable and susceptible to COVID-19. These facilities may not have access to the clinical staff that is more typical in nursing facilities, and as such direct care workers in these settings may be less prepared to deal with the challenges raised by COVID-19. To help support these facilities DHS, in partnership with health care systems and the Jewish Healthcare Foundation, launched the ESCCP to help these facilities handle COVID-19 and related issues.