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Editorial: Protect Nursing Home Residents

Buffalo News

A continuing series of articles in The Buffalo News makes clear a central fact about nursing homes: As more facilities in Western New York are bought by out-of-town owners, declining patient care is liable to follow. It’s a trend that cannot be allowed to continue.

It’s a concern that at some point touches nearly every family. As a recent News story pointed out, about 7,000 people live in nursing homes in Erie and Niagara counties. In some of them, owners are pursuing a strategy of cutting staff while taking on residents who need special care. It’s a policy that invites disaster.

The federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services publishes ratings of nursing homes, trying to sort out the good from the bad. That’s a help to consumers shopping for a facility, but getting a low one-star rating doesn’t mean a struggling home has to shut its doors.

The announcement last week that the state Health Department appointed a receiver to take over two nursing homes in Buffalo brought some sense of hope to those low-rated facilities. Still, having a receiver is no guarantee of better outcomes, as the history of those homes shows.

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