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Pilot program offers more nursing home information

A Web site provides data on residents' comfort, including such things as weight loss, bed sores and pain levels.

By JIM ROSS, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published April 28, 2002


Medicare has expanded the range of information it publicizes about nursing homes in Florida and five other states.

The program's Web site, www.medicare.gov, already provided quite a bit of detail about homes and the way state inspectors graded them.

Now the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (formerly the Health Care Financing Administration) has started a pilot program to provide even more detail about homes in Florida, Colorado, Maryland, Ohio, Rhode Island and Washington.

Consumers now can view nine additional measures of nursing home quality. The data have been adjusted to take into account differences in certain health care needs of residents, thus allowing for a fairer comparison of performance.

Six of the measures apply to long-term residents: percentage of residents who need more help from staff doing daily activities, percentage who have certain types of infection in the nursing home, percentage who have lost too much weight, percentage with very bad pain at any time or moderate pain every day over the last seven days, percentage of residents in the nursing home who are reported to have one or more bed sores, and percentage in the nursing home who are in physical restraints daily.

The three other measures are for short-term residents: percentage who have symptoms of delirium, percentage with very bad pain at any time or moderate pain every day over the last seven days, and percentage whose walking has improved.

Medicare will post similar information about nursing homes in all the other states later this year.

To access the information, go to www.medicare.gov and click on the "nursing home compare" line on the right side of the screen. From there, click "begin nursing home search."

Consumers who don't have access to a computer, or wish not to use one, may call toll free 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227).

In other medical news:

World's greatest baby shower: Expectant parents and parents with children younger than 3 months will be the guests of honor at the seventh annual World's Greatest Baby Shower, 5 to 8:30 p.m. May 9 at the Citrus County Auditorium on U.S. 41 S at the fairgrounds.

Admission is free. Guests may visit booths where prenatal care providers, schools, hospitals and other exhibitors will provide information.

A car seat safety check will be offered in the parking lot from 2 to 4 p.m.

Anyone wishing to donate gift certificates, handmade quilts and blankets or other baby items to be used as door prizes may drop off the goods at the Citrus County Health Department's office in Inverness, 120 N Montgomery Ave.

Financial donations also are welcome; checks should be made to the Citrus County Family & Community Educators.

Make certain the donor's name and address are included with the donation.

For information, call Lee Brannon at the Health Department, 527-0068, ext. 271. Local health conference: The annual "Discover Hidden Treasures" conference is scheduled for noon to 4 p.m. May 23 at Lecanto Middle School, 3800 W Educational Path.

Medical professionals and the public are invited. Registration fee is $5 and the registration deadline is May 10. For information, call the Citrus County Health Department at 527-0068. Barrier Free America: This nonprofit group helps disabled people who have encountered accessibility problems at public or private facilities. Call 628-5401 or visit the group's office at the Golden Eagle Plaza, 3269 S Suncoast Blvd. (U.S. 19), Homosassa.

-- Jim Ross writes about medical issues in Citrus County. Reach him at 860-7302 or

jross@sptimes.com.

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