By CBS3 Staff


HARRISBURG, Pa. (CBS/AP) — State health officials say civil penalties totaling more than $93,000 have been assessed against nursing care facilities in Pennsylvania amid hundreds of complaint investigations during the coronavirus pandemic. The Pennsylvania Department of Health said Saturday that nursing home surveyors have conducted more than 1,470 inspections of nursing homes since the beginning of February. There have been more than 900 complaint investigations, and 10 sanctions were finalized, the department said.

“We know that congregate care settings, like nursing homes, have been challenged by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine said. “That is why we remain committed to protecting the health and well-being of our most vulnerable Pennsylvanians by continuing to hold nursing home operators accountable, as necessary, to ensure they are providing safe care. If you see something at a nursing home that doesn’t seem right, we encourage you to speak up.”

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Last year, the department conducted 5,381 inspections of 3,637 nursing homes, including 3,285 complaint investigations, the department said. A total of 213 sanctions were finalized against nursing care facilities and civil penalties totaled more than $2.5 million dollars, the department said.

Sanctions can result in civil penalties, admission prohibitions, license revocation, or the facility being placed under a provisional license, which can require more inspections than normal, among other things, officials said.

COVID-19 cases in Pennsylvania are closing in on 67,000 as state health officials announced 725 additional cases on Saturday. The statewide total now stands at 66,983.

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On Thursday, the National Guard, Pennsylvania Department of Health and CDC were called in to help handle a COVID-19 outbreak at the Berks Heim Nursing Home in Berks County. There are 29 residents at the nursing home who have died from COVID-19 and another 30 have tested positive for the virus.

The National Guard, state health department and CDC have all been called in to help handle a COVID-19 outbreak at the Berks Heim Nursing Home in Berks County. Twenty-nine residents there have died and another 30 have tested positive for COVID-19 — 21 staff members were infected too.

(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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