Opinion — Editor's desk: Time for you to put these yo-yos on a shorter string

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Leave it to the General Accountability Office to get politicians, regulators and lobbyists pointing fingers at each other again about nursing homes.

In case you missed it, the GAO issued a report recently that concluded federal health officials haven't figured out how to keep chronically problematic nursing homes on the sidelines. Too often over the last 20 years, the report said, a facility has been cited for problems only to temporarily polish up its act and then wind up on the naughty list again later on.
This is not the majority of the nation's 16,000-plus nursing homes, of course. But the dozens who operate this way leave an unmistakable stench on the rest. They're called yo-yos but aren't amusing.
Whether or not the survey and certification system is "broken," as the president and CEO of the nation's largest nursing home association contends (he's right, by the way), it's time for providers themselves to turn up the heat on bad characters.
Goodness knows there are more than a few questionable media types out there. And I throw them under the bus whenever I can. They are not me or my respected colleagues – and I want everyone to know that.
I've appealed before for regulators, lawmakers and the public not to paint all caregivers with the same broad brush. Now it's time for providers to start painting their bad apples into corners themselves.
Nurses annually get some of the highest scores in "most trusted professions" polls, and the nursing home community received high marks for volunteering to be the first sector with a national quality initiative.
It's time to start cashing in on some of that goodwill.
Larry Minnix, the president and CEO of the American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging, is fond of saying that in the future there will be only two kinds of nursing homes: the excellent and the non-existent.
Now it's time for others to pick up the mantra and get serious about it. Associations and professional groups need to start "outing" bad characters in their midst. Providers should make it their purpose to ensure that "existing" and "excellent" become synonymous in long-term care.

We at McKnight's are committed to delivering high-quality drug information and have published a special quarterly new-drug section for the past year. Please take a moment to review this issue's version (see pages 12-14) and drop me an e-mail at jim.berklan@mltcn.com on what you think about this section. Anyone sending comments (they're not for publication, incidentally) will become eligible for a $50 gift certificate!

James M. Berklan is the editor of McKnight's Long-Term Care News. Contact him at jim.berklan@mltcn.com.