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10 Ky. nursing homes among worst in country

Ten nursing homes in Kentucky, including one in Lexington, are among the most poorly performing in the United States, according to a report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office.

And, according to the GAO, which provides oversight of federal agencies for Congress, the nursing home receiving the worst scores in Kentucky was also the second most poorly performing nursing home in the United States. The report did not say which of the 10 named in Kentucky was the worst, and GAO official John Dicken said he could not provide the name.

Only 15 states had more poorly performing nursing homes than Kentucky, according to the report.

State officials, nursing home industry leaders and advocates fighting for reform all said the GAO report is reason for concern.

"I think it is shameful that 10 nursing homes in Kentucky are ranked among the worst in the nation," said Bernie Vonderheide, president of Kentuckians for Nursing Home Reform.

"When are our lawmakers and the public going to wake up and demand that the nursing home industry quit their abuse and neglect of people they are supposed to be caring for?" Vonderheide asked.

The Office of Inspector General for the state Cabinet for Health and Family Services is taking these concerns "very seriously," said spokeswoman Beth Fisher.

"We will continue to work closely with the long-term care community to make sure facilities are properly adhering to health and safety guidelines and regulations," Fisher said. "The safety of the residents of Kentucky's nursing facilities always has been and will remain our top priority."

A nursing home industry group — the Kentucky Association of Health Care Facilities — is providing education and training to the institutions on the GAO list and to other Kentucky facilities to improve the quality of care, said its spokesman, Steve McClain.

Records show that some of the Kentucky nursing homes named in the report as being the worst had also been cited by state inspectors for creating a substantial risk of death or serious physical harm to residents.

Three Kentucky nursing homes are on both the GAO list and a list of chronically troubled nursing homes compiled by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. They are Richmond Health and Rehabilitation Complex-Madison — also known as Madison Manor — Britthaven of Somerset and Cambridge Place in Lexington.

Chain-affiliated homes

Using federal data from December 2008, the GAO found seven more nursing homes in Kentucky that performed poorly than the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services did.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services updated its list in October, saying that Britthaven and Cambridge had shown improvement but that Madison Manor had not shown any improvement in its most recent inspection in June.

Madison Manor is the Richmond nursing home where in 2008 the abuse of a resident was caught on a video camera hidden by her family.

Cindi Simpson, regional director of operations for the nursing home corporation Extendicare, which owns Madison Manor, said this week that Madison Manor and another nursing home on the GAO list, Salyersville Health Care Center, are now in substantial compliance with state and federal regulations.

"While we recognize both centers have had regulatory inconsistencies in the past, we firmly believe in providing high-quality care," said Simpson.

The GAO report said the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services should do a better job of identifying the most poorly performing homes. The GAO said the nursing homes tended to be chain affiliated and for-profit, have more beds and residents than others, and have registered nurses spending fewer hours with residents each day.

Nationally, the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services had only 136 on its list compared with 580 nursing homes on the GAO list.

Family satisfaction

Officials with the Kentucky nursing homes on the GAO list defended their facilities this week, saying the report doesn't reflect family and resident satisfaction. They said the nursing homes fared much better on recent inspections by state and federal officials than is reflected in the GAO report.

Recently "only minor survey deficiencies were identified" at Britthaven of Somerset, said administrator Brian K. Jaggers.

And Zettie Turner, administrator for Pembroke Nursing and Rehabilitation center in Christian County, said the data used in the GAO report was nearly a year old and not an accurate "reflection of the care and services being provided at our center today."

Olive Allen, Director of Operations at Cambridge Place in Lexington, said that on a recent inspection, the nursing home only had three deficiencies. Allen says that is less than the state or national average.

Allen thinks Cambridge will soon be off the lists of troubled nursing homes.

"It paints a poor picture of the facility," Allen said. "That's really not accurate."

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