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Florida coronavirus: How to quickly research nursing homes

8 On Your Side

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – 8 On Your Side has been exposing what’s happening inside Florida’s nursing homes throughout the coronavirus pandemic. Many viewers have reached out with questions about specific facilities, so we’re breaking down how you can do a deep dive fast.

Where to place your elderly loved ones is one of the most important decisions you’ll make. 8 On Your Side spoke with nursing home advocates to help consumers through the steps of conducting research.

Federal website

First, head to Medicare’s website, Nursing Home Compare.

On the homepage, enter the state and name of the facility to get the overall rating. Facilities are ranked from one to five stars.

Clicking on the facility’s name brings you to the nursing home profile.

On the profile, experts say the most important tab is penalties. The tab reveals if serious problems called for enforcement.

Next, you want to check out the health inspections tab for complaints. Staffing is another critical factor for quality and safety.

Once you have researched the federal website, advocates say, you should check out Florida’s website.

Florida’s website

You can find more detailed information on the state’s website.

On the search tab, type in the facility type (i.e., nursing home) and the name. Press the search button to be directed to the provider’s profile.

Advocates say you should immediately look for any legal actions listed on the page. Again, this signifies serious repeat problems that required enforcement.

Next, scroll up to inspection details on the provider profile. This link will give you a summary of issues dating back years. Focus your attention on the severity and scope column.

Here’s a tip from the pros about what these letters mean: The letters G, H or I indicate the nursing home’s deficiency led to actual harm. The letters J, K and L are more serious, indicating the deficiency caused immediate jeopardy to health and safety, according to state inspectors.

Department of Health website

Finally, you can check Florida’s Department for Health for data about the coronavirus.

For weeks, 8 On Your Side fought for this information to be released. Now you can find it on the Florida Department of Health’s COVID-19 website.

At the bottom of the website, one tab leads to a report that shows the current number of positive cases at each facility.

The next tab, also toward the bottom of the website, will tell you the number of COVID-19 deaths at each facility.

It’s important to note that we’ve seen nursing homes with a good rating experience an outbreak. Still, experts say, knowing a facility’s history is important.

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