How Tennessee Nursing Homes Compare

November 21st, 2016 by Attorney John Colvin

Family with Elderly Loved One

Choosing the best nursing home for a loved one takes a little investigative work. Families may want to know about several factors, such as a home’s proximity, its cleanliness, its staff-to-resident ratio, and the cost of care. Fortunately, online resources can help families learn more about Tennessee’s approximately 350 nursing homes.

Types of Facilities

Although the terms “skilled nursing facility” and “nursing home” are often used interchangeably, they are different. A skilled nursing facility (SNF) is one covered by Medicare. A nursing home is not. That means any medical services provided in a nursing home would need to be covered by other means, such as disability payments or personal insurance.

Nursing homes generally provide only limited medical care and are not required to have specific medical professionals on staff. Because skilled nursing facilities are covered by Medicare, they are held to a rigorous set of guidelines and are subject to frequent health and safety inspections – SNFs that are found to be non-compliant may face hefty fines, and Medicare may suspend all payments to the facility.

Comparing Homes

Several sources may be helpful to families searching for nursing homes, including these:

  • Caregiver List, an online nursing facility comparison tool that allows users to sort Tennessee nursing homes by size, price, Medicare and/or Medicaid coverage, satisfaction rating, and room types
  • Non-profit organization Pro Publica’s searchable database contains full health and safety reports and shows specific deficiencies, to which Medicaid inspectors assign a letter grade – “A” being the least serious and “L” being the most serious
  • U.S. News & World Report’s Health Rankings page, where users can search for homes by name and ZIP code

In the Tennessee Valley, close to Interstate 65 and Interstate 24, there are several skilled nursing facilities covered by Medicaid and Medicare, among them:

  • NHC Healthcare – Columbia

An inspection in 2013 found this 106-bed home had failed to adequately protect residents from falls, resulting in one resident falling and fracturing a hip.

  • NHC Healthcare – Tullahoma

This 90-bed SNF was cited for two recent health violations – one in January 2015 and one in February 2016. Inspectors found that one resident had not received necessary nail care or feeding assistance, and another resident who was supposed to be on antidepressants received no medication for an entire week.

  • Lynchburg Nursing Center

This home was cited for a total of 14 deficiencies in three separate inspections. None of the deficiencies were considered an imminent threat to resident health and safety, but were determined to have potential to cause harm. For example, one inspection found a nurse failed to provide complete privacy to a resident who was receiving an insulin injection.

  • Southern Tennessee Medical Center SNF – Winchester

Inspectors cited this home for minor violations in 2014, such as failing to maintain the dumpster area. The home is below the state average of 5 health deficiencies per investigation, and U.S. News & World Report awards it five stars – the highest rating – for its nursing and physical therapy staffing levels.

The Big Picture

Inspectors will find at least one violation at a nursing facility at some point. An isolated, minor violation may not be cause for concern, but multiple, repeat violations of a serious nature may indicate a home is negligent about resident care and takes no steps to correct problems.

As of mid-October 2016, the Pro Publica site showed that the two homes with the most fines nationwide were in Tennessee; one of those homes – Signature Healthcare at St. Peter Villa – was also second on the list of homes with the highest number of serious deficiencies (20).

Take a look at online resources before you decide where your family member will live.

Licensed to Practice in Tennessee & Alabama