State Nursing Home Quality Improvement Programs: Site Visit and Synthesis Report. Impetus for Iowa's Quality Improvement Programs


No single event or series of events or situations within Iowa or outside the state were reported by participants as being the impetus for the Iowa quality improvement programs. The development of the programs appears to stem from the vision of several key contributors. First, Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack has long been a vocal supporter of nursing home issues, both as governor and while serving in the Iowa Senate. The appointment of Marvin Tooman, a former nursing facility provider, to the position of administrator of the Health Facilities Division greatly aided in promoting the issue of quality. The current programs are the result of a uniform vision within the restraints of the current state budget crisis.

The first quality improvement program, the nursing home report card, was initially the idea of bureau chief, Larry Lindblom back in 1996 or 1997. It started as a web page to provide information to the public, news, and links to CMS (formerly HCFA). He later thought that it could be improved by adding survey results. At the time the Report Card section of the web site was developed, only one other state (Arizona) had done any work in this area and the Federal Government's site was still under development. In 1999, during his first year in office, Governor Vilsack included among his legislative proposals the creation of the Governor's Award for Quality Care in Health Care Facilities.

The selection of Marvin Tooman in February 2000, as HFD administrator made him, reportedly, the first person outside the Department of Inspections and Appeals to hold that position. His background and education make him uniquely qualified for the position. Prior to his appointment, Tooman had been CEO and president of his own company, "On With Life," a non-profit post acute care program specializing in brain injury/neurological and pulmonary rehabilitation. Prior to starting "On With Life," Tooman spent 11 years as a resource manager for the Iowa Department of Education's Division of Vocational Rehabilitation. He holds a Bachelor's degree in Education, a Master's Degree in Counseling, and a Doctorate in Administration and he is an Adjunct Assistant Professor in the University of Iowa's College of Education. He received his quality improvement training in the military, having been trained on the Baldrige self-assessment process. He is also a Commission on Accreditation for Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF) surveyor. Toomam explained that CARF standards are very similar to the Baldrige criteria. At the time of our interviews, he was the president-elect of the Association of Health Facility Survey Agencies.

In the first nine months following his selection, the department introduced the Quality-Based inspections program in May 2000, the Joint Surveyor/Provider Training in June 2000; the Deficiency-Free certificates in October 2000 and Best Practices program in November 2000. Later in June 2001, the survey questionnaire was introduced.

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