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Inspector General's Quality Smear: Strike Back!

October 9, 2008
by anonymous
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CLEVELAND—The New York Times has given the LTC industry a gift—in the form of an article in the Sept. 30th edition concerning a report on nursing homes issued by the Inspector General to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (“Violations reported at 94% of nursing homes,” http://www.nytimes.com/2008/09/30/us/30nursing.html?scp=2&sq=nursing%20homes&st=cse).

We excerpted the article in our Oct. 1, e-news, and our electronic mailbox has been brimming with responses since then. Readers are not happy that, yet again, the entire nursing home industry has been painted with the brush of incompetence, uncaring people, and a system that preys on the sick and frail in our society. So, you ask, where is the “gift?”

Do you realize the power that’s just been put in your fingertips to educate the public about the misconceptions of your profession? Talk about making lemonade out of lemons! The long-term living profession has just been given the opportunity to speak to 1,077,256 of The Times’ print readers and more than 143,488,000 readers in its online universe to set the record straight by writing to The Times at letters@nytimes.com concerning the misperceptions the article generates. Now, to be totally fair, the newspaper reported on information given to them by the Inspector General. This was a straight news story. The writer chose not to contact anyone in the LTC profession for comment. But, therein lies the rub. Without knowing the other side of the story, the average Joe is left with the incorrect impression that, “Yep, I knew it. Those nursing homes are hellish places to be avoided at all costs.”

Seize this opportunity and any opportunity to educate the public on how reports such as the Inspector General’s are generated, the nuances, how numbers can be misinterpreted or misrepresented. Lay out the facts concisely and succinctly. And make sure your local media know your story. A constant, quick, and overwhelming response to information like what was presented in The Times’ story is the only way to stanch the ignorance surrounding what most of you, as conscientious participants in the long-term care industry, work for every day—giving care and dignity to some of our most vulnerable citizens.

Use the gift wisely.

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Comments

The way the survey process system is setup practically every facility will have some type of violation. It is not set up to encourage and help, it is set up to present the negitive aspects of LTC. Belittling and condemation used to be the way to motivate people. This is not the case anymore. Now postive reinforcement motivates individuals and creates a willingness to do better. The survey process provide no help and no insight or instructions on how to correct errors or give better care. You cannot judge all of LTC on the bases of a few bad apples. If anything 94% of our LTC nursing facilities exhibit competencey, have a staff that genuinely care for the residents, that expresses love not only to the residents but family members as well. If the OIG believes that the LTC systems is not meeting the needs of the sick and frail in our society, it is of their own creation. The nursing homes that I have been associated with are not at all about preying on the sick and frail, they are about PRAYING, providing and promoting excellent care. You cannot judge a system by statistics. Statistics can be manipuated to say what you want them to say. The Inspector General believes he is expressing the truth. But, it is not the truth that I know to be. I and millions of other people know the truth about LTC. I whole heartedly dispute the the Inspector Generals conclusion and so do the vast majority who live and work or have family members in in the LTC system. The LTC systems provides care, compassion, comfort, healing, hope and relationships that the sick and frail cannot find anywhere else in our society. This is the truth about LTC.

I have been actively practicing professional nursing for over 45 years and have CHOSEN to focus the last 25 yrs. working with our elderly in nursing facilities. I have served as DON for over 12 years, a corporate director of nursing services for 3 yrs. and, the latest 9 years have been spent as a consultant working with many independently owned/operated nursing facilities throughout our state. I can attest to the dedication and caring that goes in to enriching our elderly's days and providing them with the dignity at this time in their lives. I, like all other elderly advocates detest the thought of substandard quality of care that may happen in SOME nursing facilities and feel the need to assure the public that this is NOT the norm, but the exception. Long, ardurous days are spent by the majority of professional caregivers promoting excellence in our nursing facilities.

I read the New York Times online article and the comments that followed it. I don't think there was one from a long-term care professional giving the view from the other side. It would have been interesting if the long-term care industry would have commented to qualify the articles information.

anonymous (not verified)