The Closing of Rural Nursing Homes

The New York Times recently wrote about the problems rural nursing facilities are having, but didn’t report on my solution.

If you happened to see the front-page article in the New York Times this past Monday on the shuttering of rural nursing homes, you might be surprised that I spent more than 20 minutes on the phone with the reporter talking about some good ideas.

Instead, he chose a flippant quote which really had nothing to do with the story. I spent my time trying to educate him about the industry, and then explained my solution to the problem.

My solution was to turn these facilities into the central healthcare provider for the county, or a tri-county area, if they are very rural. Not just nursing beds, but assisted living, maybe hospice care, a walk-in clinic to see a nurse if doctors are not available or a hospital is too far away. These facilities can do more, if the state will let them and if they can get paid for it. But some of these services are outside the nursing facility license. That needs to change.

But for whatever reason, the reporter did not seem to think potential solutions were important to his story, just that old people were being moved out of their facilities “like cattle.” There is another way.



6 comments on “The Closing of Rural Nursing Homes

  1. This is so frustrating. On the 4th, NYT did a Buzzfeed story about Chip Conely’s Elder Academy in Mexico that was factually inaccurate and did not explore whether or not it was a good experience for the participants.

    Then the nursing home story.

    Somehow they have come to believe they cannot do true reporting and be sensational in the same article so truth and completeness are sacrificed. It tuth it is not an either or.

    This is why there is so much conservative disdain for the NYT. Less the bias that the lack of telling the whole story, the complete story.

    Now back to Buzzfeed!

  2. Unfortunately many rural building are beyond their life expectancy, and re-purposing them may be more costly than building new. Also, the states have to re-imagine licensure to allow for more flexible service arrangements; but many seem unwilling to entertain new approaches to care delivery.

    1. Agreed on both accounts. But I think states will be forced to start thinking out of the box as mounting cost pressures pose more budgetary problems. As far as re-purposing, it may be cheaper than the alternative – building new or having no healthcare services in rural America.

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