Rating system a good idea

Published 10:38 am Friday, December 19, 2008

Having loved ones receive quality care in America’s nursing homes is something that everyone desires, particularly those people who are directly affected by the performance of these facilities.

But, according to the federal government, nursing homes need to be challenged to do better.

That spurred the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to implement a five-star rating system, which was released Thursday and showed that more than 20 percent of the nations 16,000 nursing homes received the lowest possible rating, one star.

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In Lawrence County, the results were not glowing. Three Lawrence County facilities — Heartland of Riverview, River’s Bend Health Care, both of South Point, and Ironton’s Jo-Lin Health Center, received two stars. Sunset Nursing Center in Coal Grove and Bryant Health Care Center in Ironton each received one star.

Some health care professionals are questioning the validity of the new ratings system.

Larry Minnix, president and CEO of the American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging, said the system “is poorly planned, prematurely implemented and hamhandedly rolled out.”

Despite the criticisms, the idea of public accountability for nursing homes is justified. In a competitive market, this type of information can help people choose the best fit for their loved ones.

Consumers expect the nursing homes to be adequately staffed, to have quality control measures and the have ability to meet state inspections, all of which were criteria for the ratings.

Nursing homes, both locally and abroad, should play a role in fine tuning the system and improving their facilities to meet the challenges they face.

But regardless, having the government hold nursing homes’ feet to the fire is a worthwhile pursuit.