EDITOR'S NOTE:  This is the third in a three-part series based on columnist Frank Weaver Jr.'s recent experiences in skilled nursing facilities. The opinions expressed are solely those of the columnist and not an official stance of The Suburbanite.

For the most part Nursing Homes/Physical Rehabilitation Centers, also known as “Skilled Nursing Facilities (SNF),” leave much to be desired. As I've written in the first two parts of this report, from the service you receive, they are anything but. That doesn't mean they are all like that. On the contrary.

Take a hard look before making a commitment. Test the food before agreeing. You could even go so far as checking the bed. If you sleep on a hard mattress at home and the one in the SNF is lumpy and bumpy, demand a hard mattress. You may be surprised at what you can achieve if you just speak up.

It's true that the best advertising is by word of mouth. I've noticed the better a place is, the less open advertising they do. That's because of that powerful form of advertising known as word of mouth. It comes from both the patients and their families, including friends. And because of that, their beds remain filled. As a rule, this just about eliminates any need for public advertising.

If you're told a nursing home can take you immediately, little red flags should fly up. If they do, hang up and keep dialing. That's because most of the time it's the bad ones that have openings. The good ones have a waiting list. If they tell you there's a five week wait, that's the place you want to be. If you know you'll be doing physical rehabilitation after your hospital discharge, my advice is to schedule your surgery close to that date.

Upon entering the SNF, insist on knowing the anticipated discharge date. And don't allow them to change the subject. Stick with it and control the conversation. If they ask almost patronizingly in a sing-song tone of voice, “What do you think?” or, “It all depends on you,” or even, “Well, it could be anywhere from a month until . . .”, thank them pleasantly, leave calmly and find some available place where they don't talk down to you. A place where they treat you like an adult, not a child. It's one of the first clues that should raise those little red flags. Those flags rise for a reason. Listen to them.

There are much better SNFs in and around the Portage Lakes. One of the best I was ever in about nine years ago is Concordia at Sumner in Copley. The food was top notch and the service was professional on all levels. Your call button was answered within a reasonable time frame and their physical and occupational rehabilitation centers were second to none.

Most patients have two room units. The first room is equipped with a small refrigerator to keep snacks cold. There's a table and chairs and a lounge recliner. The second room is equipped with a wide bed, a chest of drawers, a walk-in closet, a 42 inch flat screen color TV mounted on the wall and a couple of chairs.

There's also a natatorium with a nice size pool where you can wade, swim or float to your heart's delight. As a matter of fact, you almost hope it takes longer than expected to become fully recovered. That's how nice this place is.

Two other top notch places are in Stark County. They are Sanctuary Grande in North Canton. It's located at 850 Applegrove St. NE, just off N. Main Street. The second one is The Lodge at New Dawn, 3660 Greentree SW in the southern part of Canton. Neither of them have I ever spent time. Although they are prohibited from doing so, they were recommended to me by a few medical personnel. I, of course, promised not to reveal my sources, and as you may suspect, I am a man of my word.

Regardless, when you check out SNFs, be sure to include these three before making a decision. I think you'll be a lot happier.

Comments may be emailed to: Frankweaverjr@aol.com