Data paints different picture

By TODD TRANUM

“In God we trust, all others must bring data,” is a quote from William Edwards Deming an American statistician, professor, author, lecturer and consultant.

Deming is well known in business circles as a guru when it comes to total quality improvement and using data to drive good decision making. His philosophies on management have improved countless business operations throughout the world.

The discussion regarding the County Home has been emotional and there has been a deluge of information that has painted the private investor Altitude as a villain, incompetent and somehow not worthy of doing business in Chautauqua County. We say shame on those who have assailed private investment and embarked on a mission to misinform the public without the data. Our message here at the Chamber and Manufacturers Association has been consistent on this topic. We have communicated that our mission is to preserve the jobs at the County Home facility, to maintain nursing home care at the facility, to reach a point where the facility is financially sustainable, to increase the tax base and to take an entity that is losing $9,000 a day off the back of the taxpayer. Our conclusion based on the financial data has been ‘sell the home’.

It is important that our legislators and the community look at the data as a means of removing emotion from the sale. It is unfortunate that some legislators opposed to the sale of the home have chosen to focus on Mr. Rothner without the data.

Accompanying this piece is a chart sorting nursing homes from highest to lowest in overall rating (the best rating in this scale is five). The overall ratings is determined by combining the health inspection rating, quality measures rating and staffing rating.

This is a brief description of the medicare.gov rating system:

1.Health Inspections rating: Based on health inspection ratings on the three most recent comprehensive (annual) inspections, and inspections due to complaints in the last three years. More emphasis is placed on recent inspections.

2.Quality Measures (QM) rating: Combines the values on nine QMs (a subset of the 19 QMs listed on Nursing Home Compare) to create the QM rating. QMs are derived from clinical data reported by the nursing home.

3.Staffing rating: Based on the staffing rating on two measures: 1) Registered Nurse (RN) hours per resident day; and 2) total staffing hours per resident day. Total staffing includes: RNs; Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs) or Licensed Vocational Nurses (LVNs); and Certified Nurse Aids (CNAs). Staffing data are submitted by the facility and are adjusted for the needs of the nursing home residents

For a detailed explanation of these ratings please go to .

After being sorted by overall rating we performed a secondary sort of average deficiencies per month from lowest to highest. The data compares the nursing homes based on the deficiencies cited by regulators and the penalties imposed in the past three years.

What you find through this chart is that Mr. Rothner and the firm he owns, Altitude, is capable of operating facilities at the same level and even higher than our current County Home operation. Note that Mr. Rothner has an operation in Arizona, Devon Gables that is an overall five star operation, the highest rating achievable.

Often politics is blind to good data and with that good decision making. The situation with the County Home is yet another example of failing to use data to come to a valid conclusion.

Another Deming quote is, “Whenever there is fear you will get the wrong figures.” The County Home discussion has fueled a great deal of fear that is unfounded. In our situation applying Deming’s statement it may read something like, “Whenever there is fear you will make the wrong decision.” We ask our legislators to follow the data and do the right thing and make the right decision. Approve the sale of the County Home to Altitude!

Todd Tranum is president and chief executive officer of the Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce and the Manufacturers Association of Southern Tier.