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Nursing Home Owners Aren't Always Bad Guys

November 10, 2002

Re: "Nursing Homes Are Criticized," Oct. 16:

I'm tired of reading misleading articles about the nursing home industry. I've been a nursing home administrator for more than 14 years and have dedicated myself to providing quality care to the residents in my facility. It's by no means an easy field, and it infuriates me when what I do is characterized as a "failure." This does a disservice to our industry and motivates no one to make it better.

The majority of California nursing homes that failed to meet minimum federal standards did so because of minor deficiencies that caused no harm to residents. These deficiencies are always taken seriously and quickly addressed by nursing home staff. Once corrected, these facilities are put back into compliance. It's important that the public be aware that most California nursing homes are in full compliance with federal regulations. The public demands, and should be guaranteed, adequate nursing home staffing. But in order for this to happen, we must be able to provide proper training and adequate pay. The reimbursement rates provided by entitlement programs is woefully inadequate. To make matters worse, most California nursing homes will receive no Medi-Cal rate increase this year, while Medicare rates are being cut nearly $30 a day. This, on top of the negative publicity constantly being hurled at our industry, makes it nearly impossible to entice workers into our field.

Nursing home corporations are not always the bad guys. I happen to work for a corporation that prides itself on providing quality care, customer service and strict adherence to corporate compliance. Bad operators and bad administrators have got to go. They stand in the way of changing the image that has plagued our industry for years. But let's also be mindful of the success stories. Of those people who recover and go home and of those facilities that provide love and compassionate care to people in the remaining years of their lives. There is always another side of the story, and this one deserves to be heard.

Mark Schroepfer

HCR Manorcare

Fountain Valley

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