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Choosing a retirement community isn’t easy. There are a lot of factors to consider—not the least of which is the quality of local hospitals. If you’re considering moving into senior housing, it’s best to choose a community with access to a good hospital, with experience, and a strong record of success in dealing with patients who have your condition if you have one. Here are a few questions to ask when choosing a hospital.
Check the hospital reviews
Several private organizations produce hospital “report cards” that will give you a decent snapshot of a hospital’s overall quality. Each group assesses hospitals differently, however. Some measure the opinions of the medical communities; others measure patient recovery rates, types of treatment and technologies available, and other factors.
Some states, such as Ohio, Pennsylvania, and California, require hospitals to release performance data. However, not all hospitals in all states are required to participate, and sometimes the data used can be a few years old. But if your hospital is included in the assessments, you can at least use them to rate several different hospitals in your region. Check out the government’s Hospital Compare website to assess patient outcomes at various hospitals for specific conditions. Other websites include the US Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and the Joint Commission’s Quality Check site.
Look for patient outcomes
Some surveys allow you to see how hospitals are rated in patient treatment of specific conditions and procedures. You can check how many procedures of a certain type a hospital has performed in the past year, patient recovery rates, and number of experienced surgeons. This information is invaluable if you or your spouse has a certain condition that you could need treatment for at some point.
Talk to your doctor
Your doctor may have an opinion regarding the quality of care at hospitals in your area as well. Talk to your doctor or medical care professional to find out the industry buzz on specific hospitals. Your doctor may have more specific or up-to-date information than you can find on a hospital quality survey.
Specifically, ask your doctor about how hospitals in the area perform when it comes to your specific needs—or the needs of your spouse or family member. Ask him what he’s heard about patient outcomes, treatment of patients, and other issues. Your doctor may have experience working at or with professionals from a variety of hospitals in your area, and may be able to give you some valuable insight.
Talk to other patients
What do other patients say about the hospitals in your area? Ask around. Some organizational surveys use this as a metric in order to judge hospital quality; others don’t. But you can still talk to friends, family members, or coworkers. Or you could go online and find out what people are saying in forums, on blogs, and on websites. It’s important to get a sense of the individual experience on specific hospitals. If you’re coming across a lot of horror stories, it’s a bad sign.
Choosing a new retirement community isn’t easy—and the choice often comes with the requirement to choose a new hospital, too. The hospital you use can make a huge difference in your recovery time, chances of recovery, and other health issues if you ever need to use it. So check out your hospital’s ratings on a variety of organizational surveys. Compare it to other hospitals in the area you’re considering moving to. Talk to your doctor, and get the opinions of patients as well. A careful search can make a huge difference in your health later on.