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LTC earns a 5 on CMS’s 5 Star Quality Rating System

Friday, February 27, 2015

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) recently gave Clark Fork Valley Hospital's 28-bed Long Term Care facility in Plains, MT 5 Stars in their recent Quality Rating System.

"When I first heard we were the recipients of a 5 star rating, I was ecstatic," says Greg Hanson, MD, President/CEO. "It was less about the rating though and more about the recognition for our Long Term Care staff that have worked so diligently to raise the bar for our residents. Their dedication and compassion for each and every one of our residents is evident and they want to ensure residents are proud of their home here at CFVH. They aren't just providing standard care, they are providing exceptional care and it is important to see their efforts be recognized."

CMS created the Five-Star Quality Rating System to help consumers, their families, and caregivers compare nursing homes more easily and to help identify areas about which you may want to ask questions. The Nursing Home Compare Web site features a quality rating system that gives each nursing home a rating of between 1 and 5 stars. Nursing homes with 5 stars are considered to have much above average quality and nursing homes with 1 star are considered to have quality much below average. There is one Overall 5-star rating for each nursing home, and a separate rating for each of the following three sources of information:

  • Health Inspections – The health inspection rating contains information from the last 3 years of onsite inspections, including both standard surveys and any complaint surveys. This information is gathered by trained, objective inspectors who go onsite to the nursing home and follow a specific process to determine the extent to which a nursing home has met Medicaid and Medicare's minimum quality requirements. The most recent survey findings are weighted more than the prior two years. More than 180,000 onsite reviews are used in the health inspection scoring nationally.
  • Staffing – The staffing rating has information about the number of hours of care provided on average to each resident each day by nursing staff. This rating considers differences in the levels of residents' care need in each nursing home. For example, a nursing home with residents who had more severe needs would be expected to have more nursing staff than a nursing home where the resident needs were not as high.
  • Quality Measures (QMs) – The quality measure rating has information on 11 different physical and clinical measures for nursing home residents. The rating now includes information about nursing homes' use of antipsychotic medications in both long-stay and short-stay residents. This information is collected by the nursing home for all residents. The QMs offer information about how well nursing homes are caring for their residents' physical and clinical needs. More than 12 million assessments of the conditions of nursing home residents are used in the Five-Star rating system.

CMS is adamant in cautioning that all ratings, whether good or bad, are just a starting point in choosing a nursing home and nothing takes the place of in-depth visits. You can ask questions, observe residents and their families and caregivers, and get a feel of a home that stars can't communicate.

Christine Dow, RN, CDONA, LTC Manager credits her hard working staff and all they have done to create a culture change at the facility over the last few years since she became manager in 2012.

"We have worked hard to create a resident-centered quality culture. This is the resident's home and we are invited into their home to assist them in their retirement years."

With the resident at the center of all they do, CFVH has enhanced the facility in a number of ways to make it more home-like for residents. New paint and décor have helped a lot with the feel but other small changes with the resident in mind have made a big impact.

For instance, beautiful custom dining tables were purchased with the help of the CFVH Foundation so that residents with wheel chairs could be more comfortable eating their meals. The tables were made with wheel chairs in mind so the chairs didn't run into them but rather, under them.

"Another great addition to resident living at CFVH includes an outdoor garden area with raised garden beds so they can be accessed and worked in easily during the summer months. There are a number of avid gardeners who were interested in maintaining a garden just as they had done at their previous homes, so it was important to us to make this possible for them," says Dow. "It's all the little things that we do that really help to increase quality of life for our residents."

Special attention and effort has also been made in the area of activities so that residents can enjoy various activities seven days a week, some of which include evening activities and an exercise group that visits the hospital's Rehab department a few times a week to exercise.

"We are always striving to increase quality care and quality of life for our residents. Activities daily are one way to keep them active, engaged and excited about living," Dow says. "This is often a selling point for residents and their families who want their loved ones to stay busy, entertained and have purpose."

CMS Information provided from

Family Medicine Network

Healthcare across Sanders County

Thompson Falls


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