Nursing Homes Racial Disparities Hearing Today

Since last year, a team of us at The Chicago Reporter have worked on a project about racial disparities in nursing homes in Chicago, Illinois and the nation.

Starting in the spring this year, members of the Civic Action Network, another part of the Community Renewal Society to which the Reporter belongs, have demonstrated against disparities in homes owned by Mr. Floyd Schlossberg.

Today, in addition to some of the people who participated in the protests and academics Ruqaiijah Yearby and Susan Reed, editor Kimbriell Kelly and I will be presenting some of our findings at a statewide legislative hearing called by Sen. Jacqueline Collins.

While quality care is a concern for all seniors, unfortunately, there are significant differences in the number, quality and staffing levels of homes where the majority of residents are black and where the majority of residents are white.

In fact, Illinois is arguably the worst state in the country for black seniors seeking nursing home care.

Illinois has the highest number of black nursing homes that received the lowest possible rating-a 1-star on a 5-star rating scale-of any state in the country.  None of the 51 majority black homes received a rating of excellent.

By contrast, a far lower percentage of white homes in Illinois received the lowest rating and a much higher percentage of these facilities earned the top score from the federal government.

There are seven other states that also have no excellent black homes.  Among those, Illinois has the highest number of of these homes.

Some people with whom we spoke criticized the five-star rating system, so we built databases of civil court cases filed against Chicago nursing homes and incidents investigated by the Illinois Department of Public Health.

We found consistent patterns of disparities here, too.

We also found significant differences between the amount of staff hours per resident given and the percentage of that care give by registered nurses, the most qualified nursing staff.

Some sources said the disparities could be explained in part by the percentage of days of resident care paid for by Medicaid.

We tested that assertion and found that it wasn’t true.

In Chicago, black seniors receive worse care than white seniors, even when both are poor.

This has been a project I have wanted to work on since I worked for Martin Clayton at the South Shore Community News on the city’s South Side in 2004 and 2005.

To see it elicit the response it has thus far has been extremely gratifying on personal and professional levels as well as an indication of just how severe the problem is.

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One response to “Nursing Homes Racial Disparities Hearing Today

  1. Pingback: Nursing Homes Testimony and Hearings « Jeff Kelly Lowenstein’s Blog

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