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FOR RELEASE: March 15, 2001
CONTACT: Dick Gunn
405/271-5601

State Board of Health Requests Supplemental Appropriation for Long-Term Care Staffing

The Oklahoma State Board of Health passed a resolution today calling for the Oklahoma State Legislature and the Governor to immediately authorize a supplemental appropriation that will allow the Oklahoma State Department of Health to employ 34 additional surveyors and investigators for the regulation and inspection of long-term care facilities in Oklahoma. The action came during a regular meeting of the State Board of Health.

Members expressed their dismay that the State Legislature has failed to address the need for additional workforce necessary for the Oklahoma State Department of Health to protect the infirm elderly in long-term care facilities. Oklahoma has the lowest ratio of long-term care surveyor/investigator positions per facility and per bed in this region.

“Continuation of the present inadequate regulatory infrastructure constitutes a profound threat to Oklahomans in need of long-term care,” the resolution states. “The Oklahoma State Legislature and the Governor should immediately reconsider the impact of continued low staffing levels…and adopt emergency legislation authorizing 34 FTE (Full-Time Equivalent Employees) and adequate state matching funds to bring Oklahoma closer to the regional staffing average.”

The Board pointed out that daily complaint calls and contacts concerning nursing home care have continued to increase at levels twice the amount recorded prior to May 2, 2000. The complaint backlog numbers more than 800 and continues to increase due to inadequate staffing to investigate complaints.

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