Care data out on nursing homes

The federal government eased the process of choosing a nursing
home by releasing quarterly performance ratings to the public.
Included in the inaugural survey released this week on California’s
537 nursing homes
– 17,000 nationally – is Hazel Hawkins Hospital.
The federal government eased the process of choosing a nursing home by releasing quarterly performance ratings to the public. Included in the inaugural survey released this week on California’s 537 nursing homes – 17,000 nationally – is Hazel Hawkins Hospital.

The local nursing home showed mixed ratings. Measurements made on residents included “pressure ulcers,” “residents with pain” and “infections.”

HHH operates two facilities, the Northside Convalescent Hospital and Southside Convalescent Hospital.

The goal of the data, according to a statement from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, was so people could “make more educated decisions when selecting a nursing home.” CMS breaks down the comparisons by state and national standards.

“Everyone has the same goal, and that is to improve the quality of nursing home care for all Californians,” James H. Gomez, CEO and President of the California Association of Health Facilities said in a statement.

All nursing homes studied – including Hazel Hawkins with its 122 beds and 50 current residents – must participate in both Medicare and Medicaid programs.

The CMS inspection pointed out nine “deficiencies” at Hazel Hawkins. The state average for deficiencies was 11 and nationwide seven.

The CMS rated deficiencies on a scale of 1 to 4 – four being the worst. Hazel Hawkins did not receive any ratings about 1 or 2. Those two numbers held the designations, “Potential for Minimal Harm” and “Minimal Harm or Potential for Actual Harm,” respectively. The 3 and 4 ratings held designations, “Actual Harm” and Immediate Jeopardy,” respectively.

The deficiencies were as follows. Hazel Hawkins failed to:

– Keep each resident free from physical restraints, unless needed for medical treatment

– Store, cook, and give out food in a safe and clean way

– Make sure that residents who take drugs are not given too many doses…

– Make sure that the pharmacist reports anything unusual to the doctor on duty…

– Provide drugs and related services needed by each resident

– Provide clean bed and bath linens that are in good condition

– Provide needed housekeeping and maintenance

– Provide rooms that are big enough for each resident

– Put a bathroom in or next to each resident’s room

Linda Robinson, who works with the ombudsmen office for San Benito and Santa Cruz counties, receives and investigates complaints, including abuse and neglect. The office has an active presence in the nursing facilities.

Robinson said it is not her place to judge Hazel Hawkins’ results. People should do comparisons themselves, she said, to make the best judgment. “People can look for themselves,” Robinson said. “Read it, compare, go to the nursing facility and ask to see the survey.”

Although the local nursing homes performed adequately in most categories, certain areas showed need for improvement.

The study comparatively rated 10 “Quality Measures.” Hazel Hawkins particularly stood out in four categories as needing improvement.

15 percent of Hazel Hawkins residents reported experiencing “very bad pain at any time, or moderate pain every day,” compared to 10 percent statewide.

21 percent of residents reported experiencing physical restraints, compared to 18 percent statewide and 10 percent nationally.

26 percent of residents reported experiencing infections, compared to 16 percent statewide.

44 percent of residents reported to “walk better on Day 14 than on Day 5 of their stay…” compared to 34 percent statewide and 30 percent nationally.

Three quality measures were well above state standards. Those included the percentage of residents with pressures sores; short stay residents with pain; and percentage of short stay residents who walk as well or better after day 14 than day 5.

Robinson said the Web site was just one tool for people to look at, as it only publishes partial results.

Robinson said people can access the complete survey by calling 1-800-MEDICARE and requesting a copy or in person at each facility.

All the data was collected in November 2001. CMS will publish the newest results soon, Robinson said, as they recently completed its latest inspections.

For the survey released by the Department of Health and Human Services, go to www.medicare.gov/NHcompare/home.asp

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