In 2017, as Texas faced a nursing home staffing crisis, three Dallas-area GOP State Representatives, Angie Chen Button (Dist. 112), Jeff Leach (Dist. 67), and Matt Shaheen (Dist. 66) voted against a critical bill that would have availed new funding to nursing homes, allowing them to hire staff and increase wages.
Then came COVID-19. And now, Texas nursing homes statewide are still understaffed and struggling to care for their patients amidst a global pandemic because they lack the funding needed to prepare their facilities for a crisis.
According to reporting by Houston Public Media, nurses in long-term facilities are so underpaid they cannot afford to stay in the current positions, causing a high turnover rate that often leads to a decreasing quality of care in nursing homes across the state. The three Dallas-area Republican State Reps voted against a bill – HB 2766 – which was designed to reimburse state nursing homes for the funds spent increasing staff pay and quality care measures with funding from Medicaid.
Despite the years of staff shortages and decreasing quality of care for many Texas seniors, including seniors in their districts, these GOP members voted against the bill – potentially opening the door for nursing homes to become hotbeds of coronavirus outbreaks without the proper staffing needed to care for their patients amid the crisis.
A nursing home in San Antonio, for example, required many of its nurses and staff members who had been potentially exposed to the virus to continue working shifts due to their staff shortage. A few weeks later, over 100 staff and residents of the nursing home had contracted coronavirus; as of April 20, 18 residents of the facility have died.
Currently, there are several senior care facilities in these GOP State Representatives’ districts with below average staffing ratings, including San Remo in Rep Leach’s district; The Hillcrest of North Dallas in Rep. Shaheen’s District; and Lindan Park Care Center LP in Rep. Chen Button’s District.
All three of these State Representatives – Angie Chen Button (Dist. 112), Jeff Leach (Dist. 67), and Matt Shaheen (Dist. 66) – are up for reelection in November.