Oklahoma looks to hire nurses as health care inspectors

The Oklahoma State Department of Health is looking to hire nurses to inspect health care facilities, and the state's nursing homes are relieved.

Hospitals, surgical centers, nursing homes, home health agencies and other medical providers have to undergo regular inspections if they want to receive payments from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. State-level inspectors perform site visits and review records for the federal agency.

According to NewsOK, the state Health Department is looking to hire 16 nurse inspectors, spokesman Tony Sellars said. Nine will focus on long-term care facilities, three will inspect other medical facilities, and the rest will be divided between home-based services and emergency departments.

Nico Gomez, president of Care Providers Oklahoma, said the announcement brought a “smile of some relief” to his face. Nursing homes, including their members, can face federal penalties if inspectors find a problem and the home can't correct it within 90 days, he said.

The problem is that the only way to prove they've fixed a problem is for an inspector to come out and verify the correction, Gomez said. If inspectors have too many cases and can't return for more than 90 days, a facility could lose Medicaid payments for a relatively small problem, like a paperwork error, he said.

Overstretched inspectors also may have to put off inspecting new facilities, which delays their opening, Gomez said.

“It is unfortunate that the agency got into this position,” he said. “It reminds us we must be careful when we are cutting government funding that we are careful not to harm core services of government.”

The state currently has 83 long-term care surveyors, three surveyors specializing in home health and six who survey other types of facilities, such as hospitals and rural health clinics. The Health Department had about 103 long-term care inspectors a year ago, Sellars said.

Read the whole story at NewsOK.


Topics: Regulatory Compliance , Staffing , Uncategorized