This program highlights facilities that provide superior care, creating a benchmark for others to strive to meet. The program was mandated by HB 1976, developed and implemented by the Governor's Panel on Excellence in Long-Term Care, and operates under the authority of the Executive Office of the Governor. The program was initiated in August 17, 2001 and the first awards were presented 7/24/02. A total of 10 "Gold Seals" have now been awarded. A nursing facility is eligible for Gold Seal consideration if it has been licensed and operated for at least 30 months, has not been rated "conditional" within that period and has had no Class I or Class II deficiencies within the previous 30 months of application. The facility must also have "financial soundness and stability" as evidenced by a financial audit. The legislation requires a Gold Seal facility to have an "outstanding record regarding the number and types of substantiated complaints reported to the State Long-Term Care Ombudsman Council within the previous 30 months." In addition, Gold Seal facilities must have a stable workforce with low turnover rates.