Contest Entries

Squeezed to Death

Entrants: Heather Boerner, Lucia Hwang

Affiliation: National Nurse Magazine

Trade Publications

Year: 2011

Place: Second Place

Provide a brief synopsis of the story or stories, including any significant findings.

Judges’ comments: Coverage of long-term care usually focuses on the aging of baby boomers or their parents' situation. This was a fresh perspective. The reporter thoroughly explained how skilled nursing facilities play a crucial role, and how a nationwide trend of closures endangers the health of many at-risk patients.

List date(s) this work was published or aired.

May 2011
See this entry.

Provide a brief synopsis of the story or stories, including any significant findings.

Hospital-based skilled nursing facilities (SNFs) have been on the decline since CMS changed its payment rules. Hospitals have always argued that this is because CMS isn't paying enough, so the units are money losers. But is that really true? Evidence suggests that these units, which operate more and more as mini-hospitals as patients leave hospital beds quicker and sicker, support themselves just fine. But because they can't support the rest of the hospital, they are being targeted for cuts--and patients are suffering for it.

Explain types of documents, data or Internet resources used. Were FOI or public records act requests required? How did this affect the work?

Interviews with insiders at hospitals, researchers, studies and yet-to-be-released studies.

Explain types of human sources used.

Patients, RNs, researchers and experts.

Results (if any).

Follow-up (if any). Have you run a correction or clarification on the report or has anyone come forward to challenge its accuracy? If so, please explain.

No corrections or changes.

Advice to other journalists planning a similar story or project.

Spend some time looking at your hospital's income statements.