BRUNSWICK, Georgia: Dec. 9, 2008 – The Southeast Georgia Health System
Senior Care Center has passed its inspection survey by the Center for
Medicare & Medicaid (CMS)—the component of the government’s
Department of Health and Human Services that oversees Medicare and Medicaid
programs. Passing the inspection allows the Center to admit residents
with Medicare and/or Medicaid, says Health System President and CEO Gary
R. Colberg, FACHE.
CMS conducts unannounced onsite inspections that determine whether nursing
homes meet the minimum Medicare and Medicaid quality and performance standards
set forth by the U.S. Congress. The inspection teams observe resident
care processes, the physical environment, and the interactions between
team members and residents.
“CMS surveyors looked at every aspect of care, including our facilities,
team, and record keeping. Our Senior Care Center passed the inspection
with flying colors,” Colberg says. “This allows us to admit
area residents in need of long-term care who have Medicare and/or Medicaid
and provide them with compassionate, professional treatment.”
The Health System acquired the former Wildwood Park Nursing & Rehabilitation
Center in March 2008. The Center, located at 2611 Wildwood Drive adjacent
to the Health System’s Brunswick Campus, had fallen under disrepair
under its former management and was closed by the state in September 2007.
After purchasing the Center, the Health System completely renovated the facility.
For Elizabeth Stradtman of Brunswick whose brother J.C. Ramsey was a resident
of the Center before it was closed, news of the Senior Care Center passing
the inspection “is unbelievable, it’s like Christmas came
early,” she says, adding that her brother, who had to be moved first
to Savannah, then Midway, will be moving back in, hopefully this week.
“When the Center closed, the situation felt like it must have felt
to the people who went through Katrina. My brother called the Center home
for 3 ½ years and felt displaced when it closed. I am so happy
I will be able to see J.C. on a daily basis again—words can’t
describe how I feel.”
When the Health System purchased the Center, renovations began in earnest.
“We went in and renovated the Center entirely,” says Marjorie
Mathieu, RPh, FACHE, vice president who oversaw the renovation. “To
create a more home-like atmosphere, we established four residential neighborhoods
within the Center: Live Oak, Turtle Cove, Ocean Breeze, and Harbor Side.
The CMS inspectors were very impressed with the quality and look of the
Center and felt that we exceeded their expectations for a worthy facility
for our residents. We certainly went well beyond the minimal standards.
The renovations were completed in late August 2008 and the Senior Care
Center opened its doors in September. However, in order to accept residents
with Medicare and/or Medicaid, the Center had to first be opened for 30
days before going through the CMS survey, says Tom Cronemeyer, BSN, MBA,
LNHA administrator of the Center.
“We opened our first neighborhood, Live Oak, in September and admitted
10 residents,” Cronemeyer says. “Now that we’ve completed
the survey and are licensed for 200 beds, we can systematically work through
our waiting list of prospective residents and begin admitting them over
the next three to four months.”
According to Ellen Hamilton, RN, FACHE, vice president of Patient Care
Services, the Center is a unique place for those in need of long-term
care to call home. “The Senior Care Center is not like a hospital.
These are not patients; they are residents and this Center is their home,”
Hamilton says. Although making sure the actual physical structure is up
to code and visually pleasing is important, making sure residents’
health care needs are met is the primary focus of the team members who
work at the Center, Hamilton says.
“Our policies and vision are the same across the entire Health System,”
she says. “Our nursing team at the Center went through orientation
just like our team members. However, some aspects of their orientation
were tailored specifically to the requirements of working at the Center
and to meeting the needs of our residents within the guidelines put forth
by the state.”
Cronemeyer says now that the Senior Care Center has met the CMS guidelines,
more team members will be hired as more residents are admitted. “We
are hiring incrementally as the number of our residents increases,”
he says. “We are also closing our transitional care unit (TCU) in
the hospital and will be treating those residents here at the Senior Care
Center. Additionally, our team members from the TCU are transferring here,
so we will have a seamless transition of care.”
Now that more residents can be admitted, Cronemeyer says the Health System
can move forward with plans to expand activities for the residents and
make the Center feel even more like home. “We will have 30 beds
dedicated to Alzheimer’s patients, as well as rooms for transitional
patients who need care on a temporary basis,” he says. “We
already have two social workers, activities specialists, and we have commitments
from a dance teacher and a pottery teacher. We also have large common
living areas with flat screen TV’s, some with WII® gaming systems,
an activity room, a spacious chapel, a beauty/barber shop, library and
outdoor garden spaces. We are so excited to be able to build a culture,
a neighborhood, a home for our residents.”
Colberg and Stradtman agree. “While the purchase of the facility
allows us to expand our services, serving the needs of our community members
who need long-term care was the most important reason in our decision
to add the Senior Care Center to the Health System’s family of services,”
Colberg says. “Passing this inspection now allows us to fulfill
our goal of meeting the needs of residents who require this type of care.
We can make sure their needs are met and reassure their loved ones that
they are well-taken care of by a compassionate team of professionals who
have their best interests at heart.”
“Words can’t describe his commitment to the project and Gary
(Colberg) kept his word that the Health System would bring back as many
of the residents as they could,” Stradtman says. “I am so
indebted to Gary (Colberg) and the hospital. What the hospital and the
new director are doing is awesome—you can tell they really care.”