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Heritage Hall North upholds industry standards

April 11, 2014 |

Heritage Hall North
Reminder Publications photo by Carley Dangona

By Carley Dangona carley@thereminder.com AGAWAM – The American Healthcare Association (AHCA) recently recognized Genesis Healthcare, a skilled nursing and rehabilitation center, for meeting all four of the Quality Initiative Goals, but staff members insist “it’s business as usual.” Heritage Hall North (HHN), 55 Cooper St., was one of 13 Genesis locations to achieve this standard. The facility has 118 beds to serve post-acute and orthopedic rehabilitation patients. The hall also has a long-term, secured dementia wing. “I think we have a model in the way that we do that,” Cheryl Kowalski, director of nursing at HHN said in regards to the staff’s collaboration. “Nothing happens without teamwork. It’s a huge initiative in this building. We’ve always done it. Every discipline attends formal meetings so we can determine an appropriate diagnosis [for a patient]. We make those decisions together.” Michelle Garrity, senior administrator for HHN, said leadership and employees take part in the interview process to ensure the best candidate for a team is chosen who will mesh well with the existing culture. Once hired, the new employee undergoes an “extensive orientation.” She noted that some of the staff members have worked at Genesis for 20 years. Garrity also said that staff tending to newly arrived, long-term residential patients conduct a “full-life meeting” within seven to 10 days of the resident’s admittance to ensure they are “all on the same page” and working towards common goals of care and treatment. AHCA recognizes nursing centers that attain one or more of the four quality goals, which are to safely reduce hospital re-admissions within 30 days during a skilled nursing stay by 15 percent; increase staff stability by reducing nursing staff turnover by 15 percent; increase customer satisfaction by having 90 percent of residents and families willing to recommend their center to others; and to safely reduce the off-label use of antipsychotics by 15 percent. Kowalski said that one way HHN works with patients and their families is to provide an interdisciplinary team that provides “mentoring and oversight.” Staff members “maintain assignments” so patients see the same people on a regular basis. According to Garrity, monthly customer service surveys are sent to short- and long-term care patients to assess the service HHN is providing. She explained that the facility has contracted an outside, third-party vendor to conduct the questionnaires and that families are notified in advance about the process. “Instead of looking at employees or residents as a whole, we look at them as individuals,” Garrity said. “They all have their own little culture,” Kowalski said about the four Genesis locations in Agawam that are situated on the same grounds, but specialize in different types of care. Kowalski addressed the fourth goal of reducing off-label [when the medicine is used for treatment other than its intended purpose] prescription use. “We’re well over 20 percent reduction. We’re far ahead of the game. Everything is looked at, scrutinized, communicated and documented.” Garrity and Kowalski agreed that a there is always a reason for a patient’s behavior whether its thirst, hunger, pain, boredom or other issues. The staff’s job is to determine what the issue is and appropriately treat the root of the behavior. Genevieve Baudin, regional director of Sales and Marketing for Genesis, said that the company supports ongoing training with workshops on a regular basis. The Massachusetts Department of Public Health evaluates facilities on an annual basis. Each is responsible for maintaining federal and state regulations. Garrity cited dietary nutrition, infection control, social work and activities as some areas that are inspected. HHN’s next evaluation will occur between May and October of this year. “We’re constantly evaluating and ensuring. It’s not like we wait until May and scramble. It’s the systems and processes that we have in place [that enable us to meet the quality standards],” Baudin said. “It’s a very proactive management of service,” Garrity said. “It’s not new for us. We just do things without thinking [because it’s second nature],” Kowalski said. “We’re thrilled to be a recipient and selected for this. We strive for excellence and staff retention,” Baudin said. To learn more about Genesis Healthcare, visit www.genesishcc.com.

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