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Open records available to you

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By Jesse Osbourne

 

If you checked out the front page today, you probably noticed a story about the local nursing homes.


There’s some positive information in that story, as well as some not so positive information.
I believe both nursing homes are doing positive things, as evidenced by the high ratings they received from Medicare.
However, like any business, organization or agency, there is always room for improvement.
Some of those improvements were documented during past inspections.  
The most recent inspections showed little to no deficiencies at either facility.
With the nature of the inspections, someone from the Office of the Inspector General can stop by anytime during a nine-to-15-month period.
Sometimes situations are less than ideal on any given day.
At the same time, it’s important to look closely at how these facilities are performing during their inspections. We send our aunts, uncles, cousins, grandmas, grandpas, brothers, sisters, moms and dads and sometimes our children to these facilities for care.
I recently learned the results of these inspections are public knowledge. Anyone can request the information.
Local nursing facilities don’t hide the results. They are posted in the building, available for all to see.
In the story on the front page, we look at past results for our local nursing homes. In the future, now that we know the information is available, we will be more current in our reporting.
Information is available farther in the past, but space constraints limit this week’s story to more recent inspections.
While I appreciate the availability of the information, I know it’s not the whole story.
Prospective clients of either facility obviously need to check out the place for themselves. See it for yourself. Meet the staff. Taste the food, even.    
The information presented in the story is also available online, through two different sources.
Copies of the statement of deficiencies is available at http://chfs.ky.gov/os/oig/. Just click on “Long Term Care Inspection Findings” and search for the nursing home you are interested in.
Since the inspections have to be scanned in, the information is not always current.
(As a sidenote, the Kentucky Cabinet Inspector General is Mary R. Begley, who I hear has Washington County ties.)
Less detailed inspection results can be found at www.medicare.gov/NHCompare.
To find the information, click on “Find and Compare Nursing Homes.”
Then, click on “Find a Nursing Home within a certain distance of a ZIP Code.”
Type in the ZIP code you wish to search. Then select the distance from the area you want to search.
Click on the facility you wish to view.
Click on “Health Inspections.”
Then, click on “View Previous Inspection Results.”
Finally, click on “Show Information.”
From that point, you can view past inspection results.
There’s a wealth of information there.
If you have trouble finding the information, call or email me. I’d be happy to walk you through it.
If that information doesn’t satisfy you, call the facility and ask for past copies of their statement of deficiencies.
If you don’t feel comfortable doing that, you can request copies from the Office of Inspector General. It requires an open records request, but the information is available.
Both facilities have been very helpful as this story came together.
If you are a caregiver and are responsible for finding the right place for your family member, consider exhausting all of your options before you make a decision.
It’s important that we use the information available when making decisions such as where our loved ones will receive care.