Medicare Agency Releases List of Chronically Underperforming SNF's
Skilled nursing facilities that receive federal funding - at a cost of over $72 billion to taxpayers- are inspected annually. Criteria for review are:
- medication errors
- preventing accidents and infections
- assisting residents with activities of daily living
- assisting residents with health care needs and diets
The trend of private equity firms purchasing and controlling SNF's has warranted Congressional investigation. A business model of maximizing profit at the expense of quality of care for residents with no one entity to hold accountable has nurses and lawmakers concerned about lack of transparency in the industry. Studies have shown that after acquisition, staffing levels fall and quality of care suffers as a result.
The New York Times ran an illuminating piece complete with interactive tools, At Many Homes More Profit and Less Nursing by Charles Duhigg. As a young nursing student, I witnessed first hand this type of skullduggery against the most vulnerable among us. I worked for a time at a SNF for severely disable children. One was a boy with hydrocephalus - he was age six with a tiny body and his head was about two feet in circumference. Another was an anencephalic baby. A third was a near-drowning victim whose body was contorted with severe contractures. They were fed soy bean mash mixed with Kool- Aid powder three times a day. Staphyloccoccus outbreaks were common. Range of motion exercises were unheard of. Parents who felt guilty about leaving children they could no longer care for paid a lot of money for substandard care. Just enough care to keep them alive. Just enough care to keep the money coming in. Expenditures on behalf of the patients were kept to a minimum. They could not speak for themselves. People who tried to speak out for them were fired, or discharged.
A lot of SNF's in today's world are bright, happy places that provide excellent care. It is often better for frail seniors to be in a supportive environment surrounded by others than struggling at home alone. Let's hope that this scrutiny by CMS and the media does encourage improved practices by these facilities. As the population ages, it is an important issue for us all.
Thank you noneck for use of photo at nursing home.