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MAHONING VALLEY Government study can mislead, area nursing home officials say



Published: Sun, April 28, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



There are other good ways to get information about nursing homes-- the most important is to visit and ask for a tour and talk to residents.

By WILLIAM K. ALCORN

VINDICATOR HEALTH WRITER

YOUNGSTOWN -- Local nursing home officials maintain they aren't afraid of scrutiny by the public or governmental agencies, but say a new government program to provide information about nursing homes to consumers is subjective and can be misleading.

The results of a study, done by the Centers for Medicare & amp; Medicaid Services, an agency of the U.S. Department of Health & amp; Human Services, was published this week in six states that are part of a pilot program to help consumers compare nursing homes. Ohio is one of the states.

Based on data provided by nursing homes, the study involves nine categories of nursing home care.

The three categories released this week were the percentage of residents in local nursing homes with pressure (bed) sores; the percentage of residents who need more help with daily activities (eating, dressing, etc.); and the percentage of long-term stay residents with pain. The report also includes the state average in those categories.

The CMS survey results are "very poorly explained and I feel only give a very small piece of the information needed when choosing a nursing home," said Joe Cilone, administrator of Caprice Health Care Center, 9184 Market St.

Examples

Cilone said the percentage of residents with pressure ulcers is based on data "which does not account for the healing of pressure ulcers.

"Caprice Health Care Center specializes in wound care and takes a very high percentage of the residents from the hospital for wound care. In these cases, the high percentage reflects the facility's admission profile and not the quality of pressure ulcer treatment," he said.

Regarding the issue of residents who need more help with daily living activities, Cilone said Caprice accepts a high number of patients near or at the end of life. This causes the high percentage in this category, he said.

The CMS measures "do not accurately reflect the care provided but the type of residents admitted to the facility," Cilone said.

The thing the nursing home industry is trying to suggest to people is that the CMS survey results need to be further developed because of the subjectivity involved, said Don Kacmar, executive director of Shepherd of the Valley, with facilities in Boardman and Niles.

Look elsewhere

Kacmar said there are other good ways to get information about nursing homes. The most important is to visit and ask for a tour and talk to residents, he said.

Also, the Association of Ohio Philanthropic Homes and Housing and Services for the Aging has a Web Site -- www.aopha.org -- with a link to a consumer guide put out by the Ohio Department of Aging, that provides more in-depth information than the CMS survey, he said.

AOPHA is an association of nonprofit, primarily religious sponsored, nursing homes, assisted living, continuing care retirement community and adult community service providers.

Kacmar said the CMS survey is based on information submitted periodically by nursing homes to state agencies. It is basically subjective: Pain, example, can range from minor aches to the pain suffered by a patient dying from cancer. A facility may do a really good job of documenting and then get penalized for it with a higher percentage in certain areas, he said.

Nursing homes "are not afraid of being examined nor do we object to being compared. Next to nuclear power, we're the most regulated industry in country," Kacmar said. But it needs to be done fairly, consistently and accurately, he said.

"We urge people to go to other sources, and most especially to visit nursing homes. Ask for a tour and talk to residents," he said.




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