East Portland

Looking for a nursing home? Make sure to do your research

Looking for a nursing home? Make sure to do your research »Play Video
Inside the Mirabella nursing home in Portland, which has a perfect rating in a nursing home database from ProPublica.

PORTLAND, Ore. – It's one of the most difficult decisions you'll ever face: who can you trust to care for your aging family members when you can't be there? Fortunately, there’s a new tool that allows you to easily compare nursing homes side by side.

“You aren't prepared for this,” explained Annalisa Dahlen, who had just a few days to find her father, Conny, a nursing home after he suffered his second stroke.
   
“Initially, I was happy with the skilled nursing center, but that was more of a veneer,” said Dahlen. After concerns about his care, Dahlen moved him three months later.

The KATU Problem Solvers showed Dahlen a new nursing home resource from ProPublica, a non-profit news organization. Their site compiles all the government inspection reports regarding violations and fines for the past three years. It then arranges that information in a state-by-state list so you can easily compare facilities. It also has a five-star rating system for measuring quality and staffing.

“I think this would be a really great tool,” said Dahlen. “It absolutely would have saved me time.”

If she would have seen the nursing home standings, Dahlen says she would have made a different choice for her dad.
 
In Washington, none of our local nursing homes ranks among the state's very worst facilities.

In Oregon, Nehalem Valley Care Center has the highest amount of fines – racking up $17,875 in penalties over the past three years. The Milwaukie Convalescent Center has the highest number of deficiencies at 78. West Hills Health and Rehabilitation Center has the most serious deficiencies at 6; it is also the only Oregon nursing home to be flagged for having a history of quality issues.

The KATU Problem Solvers offered the management at West Hills an opportunity to explain the violations. The executive director, Sandy Haskins, declined to comment on camera but provided a written statement: “We are very concerned about some specific areas where our recent performance has not met our usual high standard of care … Working closely with the Centers of Medicare and Medicaid Services, we have assigned a dedicated clinical and administrative team to analyze our systems and processes to ensure that quality measures we have in place are followed.”

The ProPublica website also lists nursing homes with good records. Some even have perfect records, like Mirabella Portland. That facility hasn’t had any deficiencies or fines in the last three years.

“In terms of the performance of Oregon's nursing facilities, especially when compared to other states, it's very, very high,” said Joe Greenman, an attorney for the Oregon Health Care Association, a nursing home trade group.

Greenman warns ProPublica’s website only provides part of the picture. He says that it's a tool for families to narrow their choices but not for making their final choice.

Greenman recommends “going to the facility and asking to sit down with the facility administrator and director of nursing and see if you get a good impression from your discussions with them.”
 
In addition, the KATU Problem Solvers suggest that you do the following when evaluating nursing home options:

  • Make multiple visits at different times of the day
  • Talk to residents about their experiences
  • Ask for references
  • Ask to see the results of any customer satisfaction surveys

Be aware: there's still no comprehensive way to evaluate assisted living, residential care or adult foster care homes. Again, references and actual visits are vital.

To help navigate the online databases available to you, KATU News compiled a list of nursing homes in the Portland metro area. Click through the Google map to find homes in your area. When you click a home you’ll find links to the ProPublica entry on that home, as well as their overall rating from Medicare (on a five-star system).


Nursing homes in the Portland metro area with federal rating and link to ProPublica database:


View Nursing home rankings database in a larger map


Resource: Tips from the state of Oregon for selecting a nursing home facility


Full statement from West Hills Health and Rehabilitation Center: 

At West Hills Health & Rehabilitation Center, patient safety and continuous quality improvement are the cornerstones of our mission and our foremost priorities. We are very concerned about some specific areas where our recent performance has not met our usual high standard of care.

Working closely with the Centers of Medicare & Medicaid Services, we have assigned a dedicated clinical and administrative team to analyze our systems and processes to ensure that quality measures we have in place are followed. To achieve this, our West Hills Electronic Health Record (EHR) allows us to track and continually review quality measures for individualized patient care and safety.

We are working hard to ensure that our policies and practices exceed standards across the board and by every metric, and we are confident that the specific areas that currently require improvement are being addressed with the utmost concern and priority.

We know finding a place for loved ones who need skilled care can be a complex issues. We invite anyone considering a placement at West Hills Health and Rehabilitation Center to visit us in person or online at www.westhillshealthandrehab.com.