Investigation Finds That Nursing Homes Serving Minorities Offering Less Care Than Those Housing Whites
The memory of the suffering Letasha Mims endured at the Alden Wentworth nursing home on Chicago’s South Side still makes her mother, Mary, weep. In less than two years, she developed a decubitus ulcer. She lost close to 60 pounds. Her feet developed gangrene and her legs contracted upward toward her torso. A majority-black facility, Alden Wentworth in 2012 listed registered nurse staffing levels on a government website that were among the lowest 17 percent of more than 15,000 skilled nursing facilities nationwide. That website, Nursing Home Compare, is promoted by the government and widely used by the public in making nursing home choices. The staffing figures are based on self-reported data for the period two weeks before annual nursing home quality surveys. A Center for Public Integrity investigation has raised questions about the accuracy of the oft-used Nursing Home Compare information. Critics say it may reflect staffing levels that are briefly inflated for the sake of the annual quality survey. The Center’s probe found that hard-to-locate Medicare cost reports filed by nursing homes show lower daily staffing levels, especially among registered nurses, than those reflected in Nursing Home Compare. In 2005, the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services cited Medicaid cost reports that contain much of the same information as the Medicare documents as being a more accurate source than the data collected by state surveyors for the quality survey. Although homes with residents of all racial groups had lower registered nurse staffing levels listed in the cost reports, the discrepancy was particularly pronounced in nursing homes where the majority of residents were either black or Latino. And the overall gap in this type of care for minorities was even more dramatic.
Source/more: Center for Public Integrity
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