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Last September there was a backlog of 1300 nursing home related complaints that had not been investigated in the state of California. A Superior Court Judge had to order that the complaints be cleared and the 10-day investigation law be followed.

Since then, progress has been made. To meet the mandate, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger committed $20 million in the current budget to hire 141 new nursing home surveyors, a 27 percent increase, said Kathleen Billingsley, deputy director of Licensing and Certification Program, Department of Health Services.

“We just didn’t have the resources to make both the complaints and the surveys a priority,” Billingsley said.

She has hired 91 of the 141 positions so far, Billingsley said. To date, 99 percent of the complaint backlog has been cleared and 96 percent of complaints requiring an investigation within 10 days are getting one, Billingsley said.

The rate of complaints lodged grew 30 percent in 2003 to 2004, contributing to the large backlog. Poor training and hiring practices may be the cause of the large number of complaints.

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