A guest post from UMBC’s Kavan Peterson:
In an unprecedented move, The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services is shining the public spotlight on America’s Worst Nursing Homes by publicly releasing a list of 54 facilities with the most serious health and safety problems in the nation. Thanks to The Consumerist for alerting us to this development:
CMS has released the first-ever official list of America’s Worst Nursing Homes— a move that leads us to suspect that the Department of Health & Human Services must be getting pretty fed up if they are resorting to public shaming. The list includes the 54 most egregious health and safety violators of the 128 SFF, or “Specialty Focus Facilities,” in the U.S.
A Special Focus Facility is basically a nursing home that is on double-secret probation— subject to twice as many inspections as a non-SFFs, with the threat of funding cuts for non-compliance.
According to the CMS, the average facility isn’t perfect (6-7 violations is the national average.) Those designated as SFFs are guilty of either more violations or more serious violations than usual, as well as a history of fixing problems just long enough to pass inspection, then going right back to business as usual. The CMS dubs this “yo-yo compliance,” and the SFF program is designed to deal with it by combining more frequent inspections with more stringent enforcement until the nursing home falls back in line.
If the facility in question doesn’t shape up, correct the underlying problems that lead to violations and “graduate” from the SFF program (in about 18-24 months) their funding is cut and they will likely close.
Of course, the first thing I looked for on this list was the names of any nursing homes that cared for loved ones in my family or employed members of my family. To my absolute dismay, I found that the only nursing home in Montana to make this infamous list was none other than Evergreen Missoula Health & Rehab. This facility not only cared for my wife’s grandfather during the last months of his life, but it is located on the corner of the street I grew up on and where my parents still live today. I can only hope the public humiliation of making this list will work where government regulations and inspections have not.
For those looking for a ray of hope, go to www.edenalt.org