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Area nursing homes rated

The U.S. government has released its official report of nursing home inspections.

The 25-mile radius of Detroit Lakes hosts five nursing homes -- St. Mary's Innovis Health, Emmanuel Nursing Home, Frazee Care Center, Sunnyside Care Center and Perham Memorial Home.

Ratings (which can be viewed at varied throughout the nursing homes and the four categories of critic, but the good news is overall, all of the five nursing homes within 25 miles of Detroit Lakes were given average or above ratings.

"I think giving consumers tools to evaluate nursing homes is a good thing, and what those of us in the nursing home industry usually say is it's helpful, because this is one of many helpful tools," Christy Brinkman said. Brinkman serves as administrator of St. Mary's nursing home.

Minnesota also has a Web site ( with a five-star rating system, that evaluates similar and different categories as the federal government does.

"We still always recommend people do a personal visit when they're contemplating a nursing home placement to actually get a feel for the organization and to ask staff questions."

The federal rating system awards five stars for "much above average" to three stars for average to one star for "much below average."

Emmanuel received four out of five stars for health inspections, three out of five for nursing home staffing, five out of five for quality measures and two fire safety deficiencies.

St. Mary's received four out of five stars for health inspections, four out of five for nursing home staffing, three out of five for quality measures and only had one fire deficiency.

Frazee Care Center received three out of five stars for health inspections, four out of five for nursing home staffing, four out of five for quality measures and received four fire safety deficiencies.

Sunnyside Care Center received two out of five stars for health inspections, four out of five stars for nursing home staffing, four out of five for quality measures and four fire safety deficiencies.

Perham Memorial Home received five out of five stars for health inspections, two out of five for nursing home staffing, four out of five for quality measures and received five fire safety deficiencies.

"I think the fact that all of our area nursing homes did good speaks to the good care that is provided in our region and in our local facilities," Brinkman said.

Health Inspections

Of the five nursing homes, all received average or above for health inspections except Sunnyside. It received two stars.

When evaluated, Sunnyside was given 16 health deficiencies, six more than the average in Minnesota and seven more than in the United States. Some nursing homes in Minnesota range up to 33 health deficiencies.

Sunnyside was given less than average ratings in five subcategories -- environmental, pharmacy service, resident rights, resident assessment and quality care. It received a "1" (potential for minimal harm, the lowest rating) for offering flu vaccine to residents.

Frazee Care Center's major health deficiencies were in the form of "store, cook and give out food in a safe and clean way" and "make sure that the nursing home area is safe, easy to use, clean and comfortable."

Nursing Home Staffing

Nursing Home Staffing ratings are determined by the amount of staffing per resident. Emmanuel Nursing Home received three of five for the entire staffing, but only two stars for strictly RN staff.

Based on its 137 residents, Emmanuel's nursing staff is able to spend one hour and 29 minutes a day per resident; the RNs can spend 24 minutes a day per resident.

Perham Memorial Home received only one star out of five for the ratio of RNs to residents.

Quality Measures

The lowest of the five nursing homes in the quality measures department was St. Mary's, still scoring an average of three stars.

Brinkman explained that Minnesota legislature has taken a step above other states to actually tie certain quality measures to reimbursement rates set every year. That includes staffing, risk adjusted quality indicators, private and single rooms, outside agency staffing used, staff retention and other more detailed information about the nursing homes.

The CMS report -- which is the federal report listed above -- looks at annual data from the nursing homes. The quality measure is updated quarterly, and the staffing and health inspections is done every 9-15 months.

"They (the health department) collect our staffing data for two weeks of the year and that's what they base the staffing ratios on. And that's hard because if they come in the summer and you have staff on vacation or working a little short, that's what you're projected at the entire year, and that might not be completely accurate."

Although the nursing home can narrow it down to a six-month window for when the health inspectors will be coming, they have no idea what day.

"They can come in the evening, a holiday, night, and they're usually here four to five days," she said.

Fire Safety Inspections

The average number of fire deficiencies in Minnesota is two, and in the United States it is three. St. Mary's and Emmanuel fell under those averages, but the other three nursing homes were marked with four and five deficiencies.

Frazee Care Center's four deficiencies were due to "a two-hour-resistant firewall in common walls," "proper backup exit lighting" and other miscellaneous safety issues.

Sunnyside's four deficiencies came due to "properly installed hallway dispensers for alcohol-based hand rub," "construction that can resist fire for one hour or an approved fire extinguishing system" and "an approved automatic sprinkler system connected to the fire alarm system."

Perham Memorial Home's five deficiencies were due to "a two-hour-resistant firewall in common walls," "corridor and hallway doors that block smoke," "exits that are accessible at all times" and other issues.

Overall Ratings

Overall, two nursing homes -- Emmanuel and Perham Memorial -- were given five out of five stars. St. Mary's and Frazee were given four stars, and Sunnyside was given three stars.

Although the ratings vary in the different categories, when meshed together, the government Web site describes the overall rating as "a combination of the health inspection rating, the staffing rating, and the quality measures rating. Analysis was conducted on these three data sources and each of these ratings were combined into one overall rating."

"We've been fortunate, we've had good surveys," Brinkman said.

Minnesota is also taking part in a pilot program that points more toward an outcome-based survey, named the quality improvement survey. St. Mary's was one of the first to go through that program last summer.

"It was a very positive experience," she said.

With the quality improvement survey, she said facilities throughout the state are finding they are receiving more citations, which in return affects the star rating.

"We had about the same number, which I think is just a testament to the fact that we provide good care, that we're taking care of our people."