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U.S. Nursing Home Closings Hit Poor Neighborhoods Hardest: Study
Date:1/10/2011

By Alan Mozes
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Jan. 10 (HealthDay News) -- Widespread nursing home closures over the past decade have resulted in a 5 percent drop in available nursing home beds across the United States, with poor, urban neighborhoods hardest hit, new research reveals.

"The country's minority population is aging at a steeper rate compared with the white population," said study lead author Zhanlian Feng, an assistant professor of community health in the Center for Gerontology and Health Care Research at Brown University in Providence, R.I. "And so the potential need for long-term care is rising fastest in minority communities, even as nursing home closings are happening more often in their areas."

This disproportionate impact of nursing home closings on minority and low-income communities "will have all sorts of implications in terms of access and quality of care issues," Feng added.

The findings are published in the Jan. 10 online edition and the May 9 print issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

To explore nursing home trends, Feng and colleagues analyzed information drawn from the National Online Survey Certification and Reporting database on closings of Medicare- and Medicaid-certified facilities between 1999 and 2008.

During that time, the research team found that 11 percent of stand-alone nursing homes (1,776) and almost half (1,126) of all hospital-based nursing homes in the country shut their doors. Together, they represented a loss of 16 percent of all Medicare/Medicaid-certified nursing homes and nearly 97,000 -- or more than 5 percent -- of nursing home beds.

Using U.S. Census data from 2000, the authors further noted that overall closure rates were about twice as high in zip codes that are home to low-income and minority (black/Hispanic) communities than in the richest zip codes.

Nursing homes in zip codes comprised primarily of Hispanic or black residents
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