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Be cautious about a nursing home with “special focus status”

Perhaps you have a loved one, possibly your elderly parent, who has reached the point in life where moving into a nursing home seems the best course of action.

Whether you are considering a nursing home here in Florida or a facility in another state, look into its history carefully and be wary of any that carries the “special focus status” designation.

What it means

Special focus status means that a nursing home must remedy problems or lapses in the care that staff has given to patients. If the facility does not take the appropriate steps, it may lose its Medicare and Medicaid funding. A state public health department might assign the designation to a particular facility that is not meeting accepted standards, but SFS is among the strictest oversight programs run by the federal government.

The incident in California

A nursing home in California serves as an example of an SFS qualifier. In 2012, state regulators flagged Parkview Healthcare Center for repeated safety violations. The nursing home underwent 15 months of inspections, and eventually regulators released it from special focus status. A few months after release, a 74-year-old, who did not have use of her legs, slipped out of a wheelchair. A nonskid seat pad was ordered, but not used. The patient slid out of the chair on two other occasions, breaking her hip in the final incident.

Reasons for concern

Nursing homes currently under special focus status are located in 46 states. Violations are many. They include giving a patient the wrong medication, failing to protect patients from violence or neglecting to advise physicians or family members of injuries to a patient.

Only the best for your loved one

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid provide a listing of facilities with special focus status. One Florida nursing home, Gracewood Rehabilitation and Nursing Care in Pinellas Park, recently graduated from the program. Two others are still undergoing frequent inspections: Avante At Orlando and Consulate Healthcare of Melbourne.

Considerable care is necessary when choosing a nursing home for a loved one. You must also continue to monitor nursing home conditions, staff and how your loved one is faring. Remember to look into the history and operation of any nursing home that interests you and be wary of any that have received special focus status.

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