Sierra Nevada Health Care System nursing home receives 3-star rating |

Sierra Nevada Health Care System nursing home receives 3-star rating

Staff Report

The Veterans Affairs Sierra Nevada Health Care System recently announced its nursing home received three stars as part of its annual performance rating.

Spokeswoman Glenna Smith said the announcement comes after VA extended its 18-month record of transparency disclosures by making public for the first time its annual nursing home ratings for every facility in the country.

The data shows that, overall, VA’s nursing home system — composed of more than 130 community living centers — compares closely with private sector nursing homes, even though the department on average cares for sicker patients in its nursing homes than do private facilities.

Smith said the overall star rating for VA’s nursing homes compared to the 15,487 private sector nursing homes rated by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) shows that VA has a significantly lower percentage (34.1 percent lower) of one-star, or lowest rated, facilities than the rest of the nation.

“VA Sierra Nevada Health Care System is aggressively working each day to improve the quality of care provided to our Veterans,” said Charles Benninger, acting director. “We are proud to be one of the 60 facilities that demonstrated significant improvement in the quality of care we provide in the Community Living Center.”

The best comparison of VA nursing homes to the private sector is in the overall star rating. Smith said by using that overarching and most important metric, VA’s performance compares very closely with that of the private sector.

Specifically, VA nursing homes serve a much higher proportion of residents with conditions such as prostate obstruction, spinal cord injury, mental illness, homelessness, PTSD, combat injury, terminal illness, and other conditions rarely seen in private nursing homes.

Also, Smith said private sector nursing homes admit patients selectively, whereas — unlike the private sector — VA will not refuse service to any eligible veteran, no matter how challenging the veteran’s conditions are to treat. In other words, VA nursing homes often house residents with more complex medical needs that private sector facilities will not accept, which makes achieving good quality ratings more challenging.

As a result, VA nursing homes at times rate lower than private sector facilities on specific metrics such as pain and type of treatment. Despite that fact, she said VA nursing homes compare well with private sector facilities in overall facility rankings.

Additionally, VA nursing homes have a higher staff-to-resident ratio than private sector facilities, meaning residents in VA facilities get more direct attention from nursing home staff than do residents in the private sector.