State launches more consumer-friendly website with inspection reports on healthcare facilities

A month after a glitch took the state’s healthcare facility website offline, the Georgia Department of Community Health on Thursday restored online access while launching a new version of the website with crucial licensing and inspection information for thousands of facilities.

The new website is a retooled version of Georgia "Map2Care," which has been hard to find and cumbersome to use. Department of Community Health Commissioner Frank W. Berry said the agency was thrilled by the new site, which he said is more user-friendly for Georgians.

“The navigation, the transparency — all of that is becoming more and more available to consumers,” Berry told the AJC.

» SEARCHABLE DATABASE: Details on every facility studied by the AJC

» MORE: The 'Unprotected' investigative series

The website offers licensing and inspection information for hospitals, nursing homes, assisted living communities, personal care homes and other types of healthcare facilities. The website also includes an online complaint form for consumers who want the state to investigate a healthcare facility.

Berry said the “glitch” that disabled Map2Care for a month was disappointing and was related to a browser issue. But he said his agency made state workers available to assist the public with information while the website was down. “I’m very pleased with that,” he said.

The DCH website said that the glitch that disabled the site was the result of Google discontinuing a mapping service that the site relied on.

» MORE: State takes step towards transparency in senior care homes

» PREVIOUSLY: Lax oversight, low fines in senior care industry

The AJC reported on the month-long outage in a story that was posted to the AJC’s website on Wednesday afternoon and ran in the print edition on Thursday morning. A DCH official was quoted in that story saying the site would be back online within the coming week, and the revamped site launched early Thursday morning. The site contains inspection reports from the past three years.

A lack of timely inspections by the Department of Community Health and delays in releasing information to the public were key findings in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's investigative series about Georgia's senior care industry. The AJC found that other states provide more robust information about long-term care facilities than Georgia does.

As part of the series, the AJC created its own consumer website with four years' worth of state inspection reports about every assisted living facility and large personal care home in the state, as well as police complaints and health department inspections on dozens of facilities. As additional state reports become available, the newspaper plans to update the site, which also flags facilities that have had particularly troubling violations of state rules, such as repeated incidents of harm to residents.

Berry said Thursday that his agency was working to give consumers more timely access to information. “I think we’re moving in that direction and we’re getting there,” he said.

The agency is also proposing a rule change to require assisted living communities and personal care homes to post recent inspection reports on their websites.