Dangers in the ‘ratings’

By CATHY SNYDER

Once again the “one-star rating” has become an issue when other attempts at forcing the sale of the Chautauqua County Home have failed. Unfortunately, now other good local facilities have also had their names dragged through the mud in yet another effort to discredit the Home and change public support.

So now the question becomes, “Would you send your loved one to a ‘one-star’ facility?”

Why you would:

The rating system used in annual inspections is a once yearly three- to four-day “snapshot” in time. The surveyors enter a facility and examine a percentage of that facility’s census. The status can change on any given day.

In the industry, it is not uncommon for that “snapshot” to be “enhanced.” One example is calling in additional staff during the survey process. A “four- or five-star” facility could easily be a one- or two-star rated facility on any given day and vise versa.

Generally speaking, issues found in a very small percentage of the total resident population can significantly negatively affect the overall star rating in facilities known to provide good care. Example: TLC, Lutheran, Chautauqua County Home and others.

One also must consider the size of the facility. The greater the number of residents, behaviors and complex problems; the greater the probability of some level of deficiencies.

Different facilities attract different people because their priorities are different. Preferences vary. Finances vary. People also “choose” a facility because they have no choice other than to accept a spot in a facility that has the only open bed. This is becoming more common.

The bottom line is that no place is perfect. If you or a family member has had a good experience, you will be more likely to return to that facility or recommend the facility to others.

Why you would not:

The facility has a reputation where people shudder at the bed offered and are afraid to be placed in one of their beds.

The Department of Health has issued repeated multiple widespread citations for glaring serious violations.

Residents are put at risk on a daily basis by inadequate supplies, poor staffing, poor sanitary conditions.

The Department of Health has or attempted to shut down operations. In a word – Manor Oak.

The continued monthly “head on the chopping block” and derogatory rhetoric about the Home from some county officials, organizations and the media has become mentally and emotionally abusive to staff and residents, and is dramatically affecting morale. On one hand they say how wonderful and hardworking everyone in the facility is; then on the other hand have no problem saying how terrible everything is by the one-star rating.

If this is considered the acceptable way to facilitate change and protect the public’s money, someone should start an organization and campaign to assign “stars” to other local businesses. This new organization will have a big voice and a good ear. That restaurant you frequent received some health care violations. That lawyer you paid to help milked out of every penny he could without making a difference. That garage that overcharged you and sold you substandard tires. That family owned meat market that sold you spoiled meat and wouldn’t refund your money. That business you work for that gets a tax break doesn’t pay very much so you are on food stamps, other programs, and you can’t afford insurance.

These facts should be widely circulated via all vehicles of media coverage and validated by a TV celebrity until 99 percent of the county has repeatedly been informed and firmly believes these businesses need to be driven out of business or sold. If this doesn’t happen they need to involve the local government.

The legislature and this new organization can start comparing these businesses to other businesses. Perhaps there are too many restaurants in one area and one should be replaced with a Baby Gap due to increased numbers of small children or simply for the sake of diversity.

If these businesses don’t pay enough taxes or aren’t performing a service deemed worthy of operation the legislature can recommend their immediate sale or disposition to any and all takers. This will still be pushed even if the business owners wanted to make any improvement because local government already has made up their minds and they are performing the will of some of the people.

Does this sound ridiculous or scary?

Cathy Snyder is a Dunkirk resident and Chautauqua County Home employee.