Evaluating a Healthcare Facility? Look Out for Smoke and Mirrors

Healthcare facilities and treatment programs make all sorts of claims — but what do they really mean?

A client contacted us for help selecting a nursing home for her mother. She had begun the research on her own and told us about one of the facilities. She said, “This place seems good. My mother's health is very complicated. She has a lot of medical needs, and they said there's a doctor on staff."

The client thought she knew what that meant, but as I explained to her, the meaning of “doctor on staff” often varies from facility to facility.

What does it mean if a facility has a "doctor on staff"?

Earlier in my career, I worked as a nursing home administrator.  One place had a “doctor on staff” who came to the facility for 15 minutes every other week. He sat with the nurse manager, signed a few documents, had a cup of coffee, and left.

At another place, the doctor on staff met with the medical team daily, examined sick patients, talked with families, reviewed medical records, and made calls and thoughtful referrals. He was actively engaged in the patients’ care.

What does the facility consider a trained healthcare provider?

Another client connected with BHA while looking for a substance abuse rehabilitation program. One prospective facility told him that they have counselors on staff.  When we investigated further, we learned that these “counselors” had no formal mental health or substance abuse training.

At other facilities we’ve looked into, the counselors are masters with extensive training and dozens of years of experience in mental health work.

Are the staffing ratios accurate?

It’s common for long-term care and substance abuse treatment programs to list their staffing ratio on their website — but due to ongoing staffing shortages, that number may not be up-to-date. 

The staffing ratio of nurses and nursing aides is extremely important. They are the frontline caregivers caring for patients 24/7.

On the surface, it’s not always easy to tell a great facility from a mediocre one. This makes it difficult for patients and their family members to determine which option will provide better care.

A health advisor can help at every stage of the process.

A client recently hired BHA to care for her mother, who was moving from a Florida hospital to an assisted living facility in Dallas. In the course of that work, the client told us about her own mental health issues and how she had received poor care at an inpatient mental health program. 

The facility had claimed to have PhD therapists, individual therapy daily, EMDR and trauma therapy, and yoga. When she arrived, the therapists were not doctorate trained. There was no individual therapy, no EMDR and trauma therapy, and no yoga. BHA assisted her in contacting the facility’s leadership, and they refunded her the entire cost of her stay. 

For help seeing through the smoke and mirrors that are far too common in the healthcare system, reach out to an expert health advisor. We vet doctors and healthcare facilities, provide unbiased recommendations, and help you and your family access top-quality care.

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