Masonic, JHS rated among nation's best

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By Steve Doyle

 Good news came as a big surprise to two nursing homes in Shelbyville last week.

Masonic Home Shelbyville and Jewish Hospital Shelbyville have been ranked by U.S. News & World Report as among the best nursing homes in America. The magazine gave those facilities a 5-star rating – its highest award – in its quarterly evaluation of more than 16,000 facilities evaluated nationally. Only 1,885 facilities received five stars, with just 24 of those in Kentucky. “I was on vacation when the E-mail came out,” said Deborah Finneran, administrator at Masonic Home. “I was frantically trying to get on the Web to check it out. I was so excited.” Representatives of JHS were not aware of the survey or their hospital’s ranking until they were provided a copy on  Monday afternoon, but they likewise were ecstatic.  “We were thrilled to learn about the U.S. News 5-Star ranking,” said Donna Meador, vice president of Clinical Services for Jewish Hospital Shelbyville.  “It’s pretty humbling to compare our short-stay facility to the great work of others in our community, such as the Masonic Home and Crestview.” Said Finneran: “Up until now we had a lot of generalization about what is quality. Now we can measure it. It’s a great thing for everyone, very beneficiary is residents.” To create its rankings, the magazine used data provided by Nursing Home Compare, a program run by the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicated Services. CMS analyzes information on all nursing homes enrolled in Medicare and Medicaid. Those evaluations are based on three critical categories – health inspections, staffing and quality of care – and rates each on a star basis. JHS received 5-star ratings for both health inspections and staffing and 3-star for quality measures. Masonic received 5-star in quality measures, 4-star in health inspections and 2-star in staffing. Crestview, the only other facility in Shelbyville to receive a rating, was judged to be 3-star overall, though it received a 5-star rating for quality measures and 2-star in the other categories. Masonic has 117 beds, JHS has 6  and Crestview, which is privately owned, has 58.

“Obviously, we are a bit biased about the great care our team provides,” Meador said. “But we believe - from our nurses to the Frazier Rehab team to our support staff – you can’t find a better place to rehab than the Skilled Nursing Facility at JHS.”

Mickie Opalecky, administrator of the JHS SNF, said it’s the hospital’s experienced, compassionate caregivers and comprehensive approach to rehab that sets JHS apart.

 “Tonya Webb and the JHS team do a simply outstanding job of caring for the residents who rehab at JHS,” she said. “They have some truly amazing stories of patients recovering when all hope had been lost.  We are fortunate to have such a great team.” Though she embraced the award for her staff, Finneran expressed some concern with the process itself.  “This is a relatively new federal initiative,” she said. “It doesn’t really tell the total picture of any given facility.” She explained that the staffing component includes more than just nursing – measuring both licensed and nonlicensed staff – and that the quality evaluation is based on what she called “quality indicators,” which are areas such as pressure points, pain management, falls, restraint – all factors that need to be tracked. Nursing homes have been required to track this information for the past three years in an effort to set standards and improve overall care. “It’s set up on a gigantic bell curve,” she said. “The survey says only 10 percent can have a 5-star rating. It’s an artificial thing, and I don’t understand why that’s in there. Wouldn’t we want all nursing homes to be 5-star?” She said the way the surveys were set up put nursing homes in Kentucky at a disadvantage, too. For instance, the pilot programs were conducted in states that have a higher percentage of registered nurses in nursing homes. “Kentucky’s system uses LPNs heavily because of the greater availability coming out of our schools. So Kentucky is a bit penalized in staffing criteria.” So to overcome that deficit and achieve the rating, Finneran said, required focus.  “We looked at the system to see how the game rules work,” she said. “Our survey records have been very good for several years. We’ve had same staffing patterns forever and a day and maintained those with good survey outcomes. “We focused on quality indicators – working and working to improve those. We’re exceedingly pleased with the outcome this year.”