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Introducing Sunlight Health

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Sunlight HealthWithin 25 miles of Rockford, Ill., a city of more than 350,000 residents in the northern part of the state, there are more than 21 separate nursing home facilities, all offering varying levels of care and quality to their patients. The Fairhaven Christian Retirement Center gets the top rating in every category from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the part of the U.S. Health and Human Services Department (HHS) that oversees and manages federal health insurance programs. By contrast, the Rockford Nursing and Rehabilitation Center--a facility of roughly the same size about five miles away, received the worst ratings from CMS--in fact, it's been flagged as a special focus facility for having "a history of serious quality issues."

Information on the quality of Rockford nursing homes, New York City hospitals, dialysis clinics in Wichita, Kan., home health services in Portland, Ore.--or anywhere else in the country--is now available on mobile APPs for iPhones and Android phones through Sunlight Health. Delivering the latest data from government and private sources, Sunlight Health helps users be savvier health care consumers. In addition to information on health care facilities--hospitals, nursing homes, dialysis clinics and home health services--it also has Best Buy drug information from Consumer Reports and information on health care suppliers to help users find where the closest place to get crutches, wheel chairs, ventilators and other medical devices.

Sunlight Health has a wealth of information to inform patients about options or warn them about potential problems. For example, CMS data in Sunlight Health shows that Pennsylvania Hospital in Center City, Philadelphia, does a poorer job than its peers at keeping blood sugar levels under control before surgery, which lowers the risk of complications, especially for patients with diabetes. Hahnemann University Hospital, some blocks away, has better than average ratings from CMS on heart failure mortality (that is, more patients survive). And Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, also in Center City Philadelphia, gets relatively poor marks for its treatment of pneumonia.

The data in Sunlight Health, intended for informational purposes only and not to supplant the advice or guidance of health care professionals, comes from multiple sources. Facility and supplier data comes from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid’s Hospital Compare database and drug information comes from the Consumer Reports Health Best Buy Drugs ratings. Click here for more about the data and methodology used.

While the data is by no means complete, though it can alert users to problems with health care facilities. Take the Rockford Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, flagged in Sunlight Health as a special focus facility. A review of state and other records reveals a shocking state of affairs at the facility. As Sarah Dorsey writes on the Reporting Group site, the facility has "a culture of verbal abuse and intimidation. Unexplained bruises were found on residents. Feces and urine were left on toilets and bathroom floors. An employee yelled at a resident for 'pissing [him]self' and 'cursed' at others 'all the time.' One resident reported not being given a shower for two weeks. When confronted by state inpectors, several staff members privately confessed that they were too intimidated to report bad employee behavior because some of the offenders were family members of their supervisors. 'It's a scary place to work,' one anonymous source said. 'If you have concerns you can't complain because everyone is related.'"

She was able to track down these horror stories because Medicare had flagged Rockford Nursing & Rehab Center as one of the worst nursing homes in the country, a warning she found in Sunlight Health.

Sunlight Health was developed with generous support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.