California Healthline Daily Edition

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Recent Funding Losses Hitting Long-Term Care Ombudsman Services

State budget cuts enacted in recent years have put major strain on Ombudsman Services of Northern California, which investigates complaints involving nursing homes and other long-term care facilities, the Vallejo Times-Herald reports.

Such complaints sometimes involve negligence, poor care quality, accidents or injuries, according to one ombudsman office.

Joan Parks, administrator of OSNC, said the agency lost nearly half its funding in 2008 because of budget cuts. Although Gov. Jerry Brown's (D) budget proposal does not call for further reductions, Parks said that might change.

As a result of recent budget cuts, many county-level ombudsman offices have scaled down their operations.

In Solano County, the ombudsman office has only two volunteers to record complaints against long-term care facilities, conduct unannounced visits and alert state agencies as needed.

John Lord, one of the county's volunteer ombudsmen, said he is concerned that potential problems are going undetected because his large caseload leaves little time to make unannounced visits to long-term care facilities.

To expand the reach of its services, OSNC is working to recruit more volunteers (Rohrs, Vallejo Times-Herald, 2/7).

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