L.A. County to consider inspector general for skilled nursing homes after COVID-19 outbreaks, deaths

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A worker at Eisenberg Village, an assisted living facility in Reseda conducts screenings for people with coronavirus symptoms in March 2020. (Jason Armond / Los Angeles Times)

A worker at Eisenberg Village, an assisted living facility in Reseda conducts screenings for people with coronavirus symptoms in March 2020. (Jason Armond / Los Angeles Times)

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors will be asked to create the position of inspector general for 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 Thursday, 1,048 people in so-called institutional settings have died of COVID-19 and the vast majority were residents of skilled nursing facilities, according to county Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer. That toll is 52% of the 2,016 countywide COVID-19 deaths.

In addition, the total number of infections that have occurred among residents of those facilities topped 6,900. Thousands of staff members have also been infected.

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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