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Nonprofit rates NC nursing homes a 'D'

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GREENVILLE, N.C. -

North Carolina gets a bad grade when it comes to nursing home care and it affects people all across the east.

A non-profit recently gave our state a "D" ranking but state officials say don't just take one study as a proper representation of the entire state.

"They keep you laughing when you're over there. You have a good time when you visit them," said Rachel Hardee about her loved ones living in a nursing home.

They're visits now marred by a recent study from the nonprofit advocacy group Families for Better Care. Their nursing home report card graded North Carolina based on 2012 federal data combining staffing, inspections, deficiencies and complaints.

Alaska, Rhode Island, New Hampshire and Hawaii got A's. Bringing in F's were Texas, Louisiana, Indiana and Oklahoma.

"State officials need to hold nursing homes accountable and nursing homes need to hold themselves accountable and step up and start providing better care," said Brian Lee, Exec. Dir. of Families for Better Care.

We asked state officials with the Department of Health and Human Services for their take on the grade. They pointed us to another study showing North Carolina was improving.

"It's surprising but we do encourage consumers, residents and family members to look at other resources to make sure that they're getting clear pictures of what other facilities can offer," said Tameka Riggsbee, Mid-East Regional LTC Ombudsman.

Hardee says getting a clear picture isn't always easy.

"I'm never there, I guess, to see things going on that shouldn't be but anywhere you have something like that there's going to be problems," said Hardee.

"The state surveyors go in on annual inspections and complaint investigations and I do get a copy of those surveys," said Riggsbee, "I wouldn't say North Carolina is a ‘D' but we encourage those consumers to go in and look at their surveys and see for themselves."

Ricky Diaz, DHHS Communications Director or to the Department of Health and Human Services, told 9 On Your Side in a statement:

The Department of Health and Human Services is responsible for regulating and inspecting nursing home facilities to ensure the safety and well-being of nursing home residents, and takes every violation and potential rule infraction seriously.

If surveyors find a problem at the nursing home, they write a report called a "Statement of Deficiency." The home is required to provide a plan of correction for each problem cited. The home may be subject to other penalties. Surveyors follow up with the home to make sure the home corrected its problems.

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