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Wozniak applauds bill’s approval to better investigate long-term care facilities

LANSING, Mich. — Legislation that would require long-term care facilities to permit the state’s Long-Term Care Ombudsman to enter their premises to conduct investigations, even if facilities have visiting restrictions in place, is headed to the governor for her signature.

“We have learned a lot throughout this COVID-19 pandemic — both what not to do and what we can do better,” said Sen. Doug Wozniak, R-Shelby Township, who supports the measure. “What is absolutely certain is that Michigan must do a better job of taking care of its vulnerable seniors living in nursing homes and long-term care facilities. The state’s previously-implemented, lengthy lockdown restrictions severely impacted the Long-Term Care Ombudsman’s ability to provide oversight and bring accountability to those facilities. This bill is essential to ensuring that the ombudsman’s office can accomplish its job regardless of shutdown orders or visiting restrictions so that residents in these facilities get the care they are paying for and deserve.”

Senate Bill 213 would allow the ombudsman (or a representative) to enter a long-term care facility without restriction if it is determined that such action is necessary to carry out their jobs and protect residents and staff. If an in-person visit is required to investigate or resolve a complaint, the ombudsman’s office staff must take proper safety precautions, such as applicable health screenings or wearing personal protective equipment, prior to entering a facility.

The bill would align Michigan law with federal regulations to allow the same access hours for the ombudsman and representatives and access to residents’ guardian contact information.