There are 30 nursing homes across the Upper Peninsula, and overall, they rate pretty well.
"A lot of our facilities are smaller facilities. They're more community-based facilities, and the staff really seem to take interest in their residents," explains Doni Young of UPCAP. She's the Upper Peninsula's Long Term Care Ombudsman.
Zooming in on the list of 30, it would appear that we have very good nursing homes, average ones, and some that have serious problems.
Medicare rates nursing homes based on a Five Star Quality Rating. Five stars is the best; one star is the worst. The stars are based on three components: the facility's state inspection, which is done annually at a random time, as well as its nursing staff and its quality measures--basically the health and wellness of its residents.
I logged onto Medicare.gov, and for this story, I randomly picked a five star facility and a one star facility. First, we'll take a look at the one star, Cypress Manor in Hancock.
Kathy Dube is the Administrator. She says her one star rating is inaccurate.
"It's a snapshot that they take of a facility on the day that they walk in," says Dube.
The day the inspectors walked in, they found nine health deficiencies at Cypress Manor.
"All of those deficiencies were very minor," Dube explains. "Some of them were paperwork deficiencies which really had nothing to do with the care of the residents."
The state requires the facility to fix those deficiencies, which Cypress Manor has done.
"Since that survey, we have been resurveyed, and we cleared all of those surveys," Dube says, "and at this point in time, we have no outstanding deficiencies as far as the state of Michigan is concerned."
But that's not something you'd find on the Medicare website, not very easily anyway. Instead, you see a one star rating for a facility that, according to Dube, may deserve more.
In its last state inspection, Cypress Manor was given a "Nutrition and Dietary Deficiency," specifically, the facility wasn't storing, cooking or giving out food in a safe and clean way. The real issue, according to Dube?
"The issue was the paint was peeling up on the cooler floor. But that falls under the deficiency for Dietary Cleanliness," she says.
That's just one example. According to Medicare.gov, the other eight deficiencies fell in the categories of Mistreatment, Quality Care, Pharmacy Service, and Environmental. But everyone I've spoken with, including Doni Young, the U.P.'s Long Term Care Ombudsman, says you can't rely solely on the Five Star Quality Rating.
"We always encourage that whenever available, that you visit the facility before admission, and you can go in and base your own observations and experiences on the Five Star Rating," Young says.
Speaking from my own visit to Cypress Manor, and I'm no expert, it appeared to be clean, the staff was friendly, the food smelled good, and the residents seemed happy. But there's a facility that Medicare rates five stars right up the road from Cypress Manor. Tomorrow night, we'll take a look at PortagePointe.
Overall U.P. nursing home ratings, based on latest Medicare reports on Medicare.gov:
One Star Overall:Mackinac Straits Long Term Care Unit, St. IgnaceTendercare, Sault Ste. MarieCypress Manor Health and Rehab, Hancock
Two Stars Overall:Tendercare Health Center, MunisingManorcare Nursing and Rehab Center, KingsfordMather Nursing Center, IshpemingMenominee Care Center, Menominee
Three Stars Overall:Helen Newberry Joy Hospital Long Term Care Unit, NewberryOur Lady of Mercy Health and Rehab, HubbellAspirus Ontonagon Hospital, Inc., OntonagonJosephson Nursing Home, IronwoodChippewa County War Memorial Hospital Long Term Care Unit, Sault Ste. Marie
Four Stars Overall:Schoolcraft Medical Care Facility, ManistiquePinecrest Medical Care Facility, PowersHyland Nursing Home, Iron MountainIron County Medical Care Facility, Crystal FallsIron River Care Center, Iron RiverNorlite Nursing Home, MarquetteEastwood Nursing Center, NegauneeMarquette County Medical Care Facility, IshpemingBayside Village, L'AnseHoughton County Medical Care Facility, HancockGogebic Medical Care Facility, WakefieldWestgate Nursing and Rehab, IronwoodChristian Park Health Care Center, Escanaba
Five Stars Overall:Christian Park Village, EscanabaRoubal Care and Rehab Center, StephensonFreeman Nursing and Rehab Community, KingsfordPortagePointe, Hancock
No Rating Available:Bishop Noa Home for Senior Citizens, Escanaba
Not Rated:DJ Jacobetti Home for Veterans, Marquette
For more information, visit Medicare's Website.