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Local nursing homes don't make the grade

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Updated: 11/22/2013 9:30 am
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Choosing a nursing home is one of the most important decisions Joel Barber ever made for his mom, so he made sure to do his research.

"You've got your family member there, and they depend on you to go to those resources, do your homework, and find the best place."

The Agency for Health Care Association watch list is one of many resources available. It flags facilities that violate state health and safety standards.

An Action News investigation found 27 percent of the nursing homes in Duval, St. Johns and Clay counties are on that list.

We asked John Simmons of the Florida Health Care Association how someone would know if a nursing home is on the watch list when they walk inside. He showed us all the places where nursing homes are required post their most recent inspection reports inside the facility.

But some patient advocates say that's not enough. They are pushing lawmakers to introduce a bill this legislative session that would require watch list facilities to post signs of their infractions on every single entrance.

Simmons says that’s not fair.

"You can get on that watch list for a minor infraction or a series of minor infractions, and you will not be off of it for 30 months, even if they were fixed that same day."

The bill would also require facilities to notify family members of all infractions in writing.

While Barber says he wants to know about any problem -- big or small -- he isn’t sure these facilities need a sign on the door for two and half years if the problems have been corrected.

"It would make me feel a little uneasy to see that on the door. I think it should be offered but not posted up on the window."

"There's a difference in pointing out a problem and fixing a problem and moving forward," says Simmons.

He believes lawmakers should instead focus on legislation that assists facilities in making improvements and corrections in a more timely manner.

According to the FHCA, Florida's nursing home industry has a "B" grade, and more than 60 percent of all facilities have been given four or five stars.

The FHCA suggests consulting a variety of sources before selecting a nursing home for your loved one, including the Centers for Medicare rating system. You should also visit the facility in-person.

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