Massachusetts health regulators are strengthening oversight of nursing homes by creating a unit to conduct unannounced inspections and promising to fine problem-plagued facilities.

Public Health Commissioner Dr. Monica Bharel told The Boston Globe that consumers will also have access to a new online system to file complaints and find more detailed information about nursing homes.

The changes follow a series of reports by the newspaper that showed how an out-of-state chain acquired a string of nursing homes with little attention from regulators. Some of those facilities were beset by reports of substandard care.

Bharel says the Public Health Department last year received about 11,000 complaints from consumers and reports of problems filed by nursing homes.

About 40,000 residents live in the state's more than 400 nursing homes.  (Associated Press)

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