HARRISBURG – The Senate Health and Human Services Committee today approved a bill introduced by Sen. Judy Ward (R-30) and Senator Maria Collett (D-12) that would enhance the availability and quality of health care for senior citizens in Pennsylvania.
“Pennsylvania is facing a health care workforce crisis that directly affects the ability of senior citizens and adults with disabilities to receive the care they need,” Ward said. “This bill would enable Pennsylvania health care providers to better serve older residents by creating a new position in nursing homes that creates greater flexibility in how they deliver certain medications.”
“While we continue efforts to address healthcare staffing gaps, it’s critical that the dedicated workers we do have are empowered to provide the highest level of care they can,” said Senator Collett. “Under SB 668, the professionals who work most closely with long term care residents can receive the training they need to safely administer medications.”
Senate Bill 668 would help address a workforce shortage that exists in Pennsylvania’s nursing homes. The shortage, which existed prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, has only grown in recent years as health care professionals have left the field due to burnout.
The bill would enable certified nurse aids (CNAs) to train to become Certified Medication Aides (CMAs) and deliver common, minimally invasive prescribed medications to residents of nursing facilities. Currently, registered nurses (RNs) and licensed practical nurses (LPNs) are the only authorized caregivers who can administer medications to nursing home residents.
CNAs would be able to complete a certified medication administration program established by the Pennsylvania Department of Education. The program would include a minimum of forty hours of classroom and clinical training.
CNAs who complete the program would be registered as CMAs and would be authorized to administer certain prescribed medications in health care facilities. The certification would require renewal every two years.
“In addition to providing better care to nursing home residents, this bill also would establish career growth and development opportunities for dedicated health care professionals,” Ward said. “This legislation would create new advancement opportunities for CNAs while enabling them to deliver expanded care to the patients they serve.”
“Providing CNAs with the opportunity to pursue this additional certification would not only enable career growth and development, but it would also help reduce inefficiencies and improve health outcomes,” Collett said. “I look forward to continuing to work with Senator Ward to get this legislation to the Governor’s desk.”
The bill now heads to the full Senate for consideration.
Contact: Nathan Akers
Contact: Bailey Landis