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Web site to rate nursing homes

Oklahomans facing long-term care decisions for themselves or loved ones have a new tool to help assess the quality of care in state nursing facilities.

It's a Web site with a self-explanatory address of www.oknursinghomeratings.com, which Gov. Brad Henry introduced at a news conference Thursday at the state Capitol.

An ‘exciting consumer tool'
The new Web site, part of the state's Focus on Excellence initiative, provides ratings on 10 measures of quality and provides overall rankings for participating nursing homes in the voluntary program of one to five stars.

Henry called it an "exciting consumer tool” in his introduction.

"The most important function of government is to protect its citizens,” Henry said. "This Web site will rank nursing homes on about 10 factors and allow Oklahomans to look at the various factors and determine where they might want to place their loved ones.”

The Web site provides a search tool that allows consumers to filter nursing homes by geographic location, by name and by what the users consider to be the most important qualities.

Nursing homes are ranked on such factors as quality of life, resident/family satisfaction, nursing turnover and retention, state survey compliance, clinical measures, Medicare utilization and nursing staff per patient day.

About 85 percent of the state's nursing homes participated in the ranking system, which was based on a survey conducted by a company called My InnerView.

"In addition, the Web site will encourage long term care facilities across the state to improve their quality of care,” Henry said.

Rewards offered
The incentives are more than superficial, said Mike Fogarty, chief executive officer of the Oklahoma Health Care Authority, which administers Medicaid payments through its SoonerCare program.

Nursing homes that earn one to five stars in the survey will be rewarded with higher payments in 1 percent increments up to 5 percent per patient, Fogarty said.

"These are financial incentives that are built into the rate that the state Medicaid program pays for care in our facilities,” Fogarty said. "A facility at the very top, the best overall, can earn as much as $5.45 per patient per day that is built into the fee schedule.”

David Rising with the Chandler Nursing Center and vice president of the Oklahoma Association of Health Care Providers, called the ratings and Web site a revolutionary idea that "challenges and stimulates” care givers.

Bill Bristow, state president of the Oklahoma AARP, said the rankings system allows Oklahomans the opportunity to "truly be informed consumers” when faced with the decision to choose a nursing facility for themselves or a loved one.

Bill Pierce, president of the Baptist Village Retirement Communities of Oklahoma and treasurer of the American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging, praised the initiative, as well.

"I know a good thing when I see it, and this new Focus on Excellence is a great thing,” he said.

After the news conference concluded, Mike Ragland, marketing director for Grace Living Centers, which operates 23 nursing facilities in the state, said the new system provides an incentive for his company and others to improve the quality of life in their centers. Seven Grace Living Centers earned five-star rankings, he said.

"It requires focus and attention on (quality issues), and that in turn is going to help the consumer,” Ragland said.

Oklahoma nursing home ratings
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