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A lack of transparency in California nursing homes


One of the most significant tragedies surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic is the deadly impact on nursing home residents nationwide. California’s death toll stands at approximately 9,300 deaths and thousands more sickened in these specific care facilities nationwide.

Two years before an international health crisis changed the world, one nursing home was operating at a level of negligence that could only be considered dangerous, if not potentially deadly.

Serious violations result in financial penalties

In 2018, a Fresno-based facility was fined in the high six figures after multiple inspections revealed poor patient care. The report revealed specific instances of neglect included bedsores, skipped treatments, and poor distribution of much-needed medication. In interviews with staff, inspectors uncovered overworked employees unable to attend to all their duties.

One resident was rushed to the hospital and diagnosed with sepsis after being denied four doses of an antibiotic.

The 99-bed facility was categorized as “immediate jeopardy” deficiency, a distinction reserved for the most severe incidents occurring in nursing homes. In response, the federal government fined the facility $912,414, setting a new record for the largest penalty for a California-based nursing home in at least a decade.

Whether over the tarnished reputation or the excessive monetary amount, few nursing homes would be able to survive that nearly a million in fines. Yet, the significantly fined care facility continues operation without any online evidence of the penalty being paid. While the facility likely conceded and paid the fine, the lack of proof is troubling.

While advocates, consumers, and lawmakers continue to demand transparency and accountability, state and federal entities responsible for nursing home oversight simply do not report everything. What they do reveal presents challenges in finding the data. The problem goes beyond fines as vital information for consumers on nursing home licenses and owners is, at best vague. At the worst, it is being obscured.

Without vital data for Californians looking to find nursing homes for their loved ones, they face a potential de facto “buyer beware” scenario. Full disclosure is paramount, considering that lives may be at stake. Far too many have already been lost.