To the editor:
As president of the Kansas Association of Homes and Services for the Aging, which represents 165 not-for-profit long-term care provider organizations around the state, I am deeply disturbed by the Journal-World's Feb. 13 article entitled "Wichita named worst city to be in a nursing home." The headline conveys an assumption based on one company's report on a limited set of data. It has caused unnecessary fear among present and prospective nursing home residents and their families.
The company that generated the report is in the business of selling information to insurance companies and anyone else who will pay the price. The data is derived exclusively from annual state nursing home inspections. The same information is posted free of charge in every nursing home and on the federal government's website www.medicare.gov/nhcompare/home.asp.
It is important to have a rigorous nursing home inspection process. In fact, Kansas has one of the most stringent systems in the nation. It is intense, thorough, and has zero tolerance for regulation violations. However, judging a nursing home solely on the basis of a once a year "snapshot" is in no way sufficient. Evaluating the quality of care in a nursing home requires a personal visit. There is no substitute for using your eyes and ears to determine the quality of the physical environment or the level of staffing or the satisfaction of residents and families. A personal visit also provides an opportunity to visit with the administrator, staff and residents, and to inquire about the organization's philosophy of care, programs and services.
The Journal article did a great disservice to hundreds of workers who get up each day and make it their mission to provide competent and loving care to elderly persons. While they may be disparaged in the media, they are truly everyday heroes in the eyes of many.
I would encourage anyone to visit our KAHSA members in Wichita, Lawrence or any other part of the state, and see for yourself the great job they are doing.
John R. Grace,