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Nursing Home Task Force Meets for First Time, Lays Out Road Map to Address Issues

a photo of a a patient in a nursing home
Summit County Council president Jeff Wilhite says many nursing facilities have a need for more staff.

Summit county leaders have laid out a road map to try to ensure better care for people in nursing homes. County Council president Jeff Wilhite proposed creating the nursing homes and facilities task force after a Copley facility was flagged earlier this yearby the federal government as one of the worst in the country. Fairlawn Rehab & Nursing Center on Ridgewood Rd. has since closed.

Wilhite says the first task force meeting Tuesday included representatives from all relevant stakeholders, including the Ohio Department of Health which regulates Ohio nursing homes.  

Wilhite says they started talking about a range of ideas to address some of the most pressing needs, such as staffing.  

“Maybe there’s a way that we could create a nursing home care corps for lack of a better term at this point that would allow some type of stipend to the [high school] students that would participate," Wilhite said. "They could learn hands-on basic care in nursing homes and that could maybe help some of the issues nursing homes have on a daily basis with caring for patients." Wilhite acknowledges the idea would require a consideration of issues including health care privacy laws and liability. But he says it's one of many that will be considered as the task force meets in the coming months. 

He says the group has developed committees, including a legislative committee, that will report back at the next meeting January 21 with data to help increase understanding of the issues. The group will meet monthly to consider solutions and hopes to have recommendations for changes by May.

The meeting dates are January 21, February 18, March 24, April 21 and May 19. They are open to the public.  

The meetings will all begin at 10 a.m. and will be held in the large meeting room at the Greater Akron Chamber of Commerce in the AES Building, 388 S. Main St., Suite 205. 

A Northeast Ohio native, Sarah Taylor graduated from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio where she worked at her first NPR station, WMUB. She began her professional career at WCKY-AM in Cincinnati and spent two decades in television news, the bulk of them at WKBN in Youngstown (as Sarah Eisler). For the past three years, Sarah has taught a variety of courses in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Kent State, where she is also pursuing a Master’s degree. Sarah and her husband Scott, have two children. They live in Tallmadge.