Nursing home quality called good in survey

BUSINESS DIGEST

April 21, 2006|By M. WILLIAM SALGANIK | M. WILLIAM SALGANIK,SUN REPORTER

Marylanders are generally satisfied with the quality of nursing homes their relatives are living in, according to a pilot survey by the Maryland Health Care Commission.

Since it was a pilot, the commission is releasing only statewide results. Next year, it will publish satisfaction survey data for each nursing home in the state.

The state sent out more than 20,000 questionnaires last year to relatives or other responsible adults for each resident who had spent at least four weeks in a nursing home. Nearly 11,000 were returned. On a five-point scale, overall satisfaction was about 4, representing "satisfied."

"This is pleasant and good news," said commission member Clifton Toulson Jr. "I'd heard horror stories about nursing homes."

Carol Christmyer, chief of special projects for the commission, said the staff wasn't sure how Maryland scores compared with other states, but added that state comparisons will be available in future years.

Christmyer said smaller homes had slightly higher satisfaction scores, on average, than larger facilities, and that nonprofit homes had slightly higher scores than for-profit ones. Scores for individual homes ranged from near 5, or very satisfied, to slightly below 3, the neutral point on the scale.

Also yesterday, the commission released its annual report tracking treatment by, and reimbursement for, doctors and other medical practitioners. On average, doctor fees paid by insurers increased 1 percent to 2 percent, continuing a trend of modest increase, Ben Steffen, deputy director for data systems and analysis, reported.

bill.salganik@baltsun.com

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