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      Special Report: Rating U.P. Nursing Homes, Part 2 of 2

      In Part 1 of the special report, we visited and learned about the Five Star Quality Rating system used on nursing homes. Five stars is the best, one star is the worst. We looked at what makes a one star nursing home "much below average," according to Medicare.

      In Part 2, let's examine the other end of the spectrum.

      The state rates Hancock's PortagePointe five stars.

      "We definitely feel like we work very hard to maintain a very high quality care and standards for our elders who live here," says Vicki Usitalo, who's an Assistant Coach at PortagePointe, basically an Assistant Manager.

      Their back story: In 2000, Portage Health moved to a new facility in Hancock on Quincy Hill. That's when PortagePointe was established as a 30-bed nursing home. It was well-received, and in 2002 became affiliated with what's called the Eden Alternative , an international organization that nursing homes can subscribe to that strives to make facilities feel like home.

      "They truly believe that the three plagues of the elderly living in facilities are loneliness, helplessness and boredom," Usitalo says, "and so we really seek to relieve those three plagues with the elders."

      PortagePointe now has 60 beds divided into five houses, 10 residents to a house. Residents eat home-cooked meals in their house in small dining rooms at a table, much like a family would. There are pets that roam the hallways, some even share rooms with the elders. The state is impressed with nursing homes that offer this feeling of home.

      "Nursing homes that are able to do more smaller living areas, as well as have things such as private rooms, are always ideal for residents," says Doni Young, the U.P.'s Long Term Care Ombudsman, "and as the Ombudsman program, we always try to strive to get facilities to try and provide more home-like care and more individualized care."

      Still, PortagePointe isn't perfect. Its last state inspection found five deficiencies. According to, two were "Resident Rights" deficiencies, one was a "Nutrition and Dietary" deficiency, one was "Environmental" and one was "Administrative." But remember, the overall rating is a combination of the state inspection as well as staffing and quality measures. Overall, PortagePointe is a five star facility.

      "We would love to give you a tour and show you what we're all about," Usitalo says.

      Most nursing homes, including the two I visited, do offer tours. The Medicare Five Star Quality Rating is really only there as a guide.

      "The Five Star Rating System was developed to give customers and family members, as well as caregivers, an easier way to compare nursing homes and an idea on what questions they should ask when they're pursuing long-term care for a loved one," Young explains.

      So give them a call and be your own nursing home inspector.


      Overall U.P. nursing home ratings, based on latest Medicare reports on

      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, EscanabaDJ Jacobetti Home for Veterans, Marquette

      For more information, visit Medicare's Website.