How Safe is that Nursing Home?

Have you visited Medicare's web page for finding and comparing nursing homes? You can enter a ZIP code, city and state, or just a state to find nursing homes and compare their ratings for health inspections, staffing, and quality measures. If you're lookig for a nursing home for yourself or a loved one, this information is extremely helpful.

But with COVID-19 and the pandemic, there are more reasons wto be concerned about nursing homes. many of the most serious COVID-19 outbreaks have been in care facilities. This means that new tools are needed to determine which care facilities have not only the best ratings, but also have the fewest COVID-19 cases.

CMS Providing COVID-19 Nursing Home Data

 In early June 2020, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS, or started posting its first set of underlying COVID-19 data for nursing homes. This is part of their effort to require nursing homes to inform residents and their families of COVID-19 cases in their facilities. These facilities are now required to report COVID-19 cases and deaths directly to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and CMS is making this data publicly available. CMS will update this data on a regular basis.

Their reporting includes visual graphics to report some of their data.

Nursing Homes Must Report How COVID-19 is Impacting Residents

Nursing homes are now required to report information about how COVID-19 is impacting their residents. CMS's web page includes a map with the ability to search for a nursing home by name or location and then view statistics about the number of residents confirmed or suspected to have COVID-19, plus the number of COVID-19 deaths. It also includes a helpful statistic for each nursing home: the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases and deaths per 1,000 residents. This statistic is the most helpful because it gives a view into how widespread the cases are at a facility. Knowing that a facility has five confirmed cases isn't nearly as helpful as knowing how many cases per 1,000 residents this equates to. Said another way, five confirmed cases in a population of 10 residents (which is 500 per 1,000 residents) is much worse than five confirmed cases in a population of 100 residents (100 per 1,000 residents). Expressing this number "per 1,000 residents" is an effective way of comparing the data across different sized facilities.

The web page also has a map showing total resident cases by state. It has charts showing the average resident cases and deaths per 1,000 residents for each state. This is handy for those wishing to know how their state is faring.

There is also a very large table where you can use filters to search for a nursing home and view extensive data about the facility.

If you or a loved one may need to be in a nursing home, be sure to check out these support pages so you can make the most informed choice possible.


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