Rim Country Health and Retirement Community is among an elite group of skilled nursing facilities in Arizona. For the second year in a row it has been given a 100 percent quality rating by the state of Arizona.
The rating is the result of a very rigorous inspection, which investigates every aspect of nursing homes to determine the quality of the care provided, the environment, the food, the activities, the facility and more.
Owner Harvey Pelovsky recently talked with the Roundup about the inspection and the rating.
“Each facility in the state is inspected every 15 months. The state comes in with the objective to find problems and deficiencies,” he said.
The facility’s personnel must then submit a plan of correction for any citations and make the required improvements within 30 days.
“In my 30-plus years in the business I have never known of any facility to have two years with no deficiencies. A director of nursing at another facility asked if I knew how few get this kind of rating,” Pelovsky said.
Rim Country Health and Retirement Community has actually earned an “A” rating for three consecutive years, he said. It had a 94 percent in 2009, 100 percent in 2010 and now another 100 percent for 2011.
Rim Country Health employs more than 120 people including staff for three shifts; weekend, part-time and fill-in personnel.
Among these employees is northern Arizona’s only certified wound care nurse, Carla Ernst.
Ernst has been with Rim Country Health more than 11 years, and became wound care certified with national accreditation in August 2010.
“The national boards test was worse than the one I took to become an RN,” Ernst said.
She had to learn the anatomy of the skin, how it heals and care planning. The goal of her training and what she does at Rim Country Health is to assess a patient’s wound and determine how to heal it in the shortest time possible.
“The No. 1 thing is prevention (of facility-acquired wounds),” she said.
Rim Country Health has less than half a percent of its patients presenting facility-acquired wounds on an annual basis. Most other facilities strive for less than 2 percent annually.
When Ernst works with a new patient, she will make a full assessment of their wound and general condition, which takes about two hours initially. She also interviews them and their family. Then she follows up with them daily, personally measuring their wound(s) to see how the healing is progressing.
“I pride myself, seeing my work as what I can do for the person,” she said.
“My heart is here. I love this place,” Ernst said.
She is not stingy with her skills either; she is teaching what she knows to other nurses at Rim Country Health. She is still learning too, once a month she has a wound care consultant come and help her with cases that are presenting new issues.
Ernst said she didn’t want to be a wound nurse, but was talked into it by the facility’s former director of nursing.
“It has been one of the best things I have ever done. It’s exciting,” she said.
Rim Country Health’s administrator Russ Goddard said they wanted to go the extra step in providing care for the patients, so made it possible for Ernst to get the training she needed to earn her national accreditation certification.
“We look at the patients as a whole,” he said.
While the care of the whole patient is the priority of everyone at Rim Country Health, Goddard said they are facing some challenges.
“With the cuts coming in Medicare and Medicaid, we are doing all we can to not lay people off and maintain our 100 percent quality rating,” he said.
One of the changes they have made to address the challenges is having fully electronic charting. He said it allows the staff to stay focused on the residents and keep enough people on the floor to take care of them.
“With all the challenges, we are confident we will continue to be able to give a high level of care. Because we are locally owned, we can make decisions locally,” Goddard said.
“There is a tremendous amount of talent and compassion here,” he added.
Discussing how Rim Country Health went from 29 patients in 2005 when he first came to the facility, to near capacity now, Harvey Pelovsky said it was a matter of sitting down and looking at the services being provided and what was needed.
“I visited hospitals and Indian Health,” he said. The goal was to see not only what services the immediate community lacked, but also what was needed in the general region. It added both a behavioral unit and an Alzheimer’s unit, made space available for dialysis services and added outpatient therapy.
Pelovsky said the staff has made a special effort to make the community aware that the facility is available for its use and it now has quite a number of organizations meeting there.
Anyone wanting the details for using the meeting room at the apartment complex at Rim Country Health can contact Christine Zuber, the facility’s receptionist, at (928) 474-1120.
“We want to be part of the fabric of Payson,” Pelovsky said.
To be “part of the fabric of Payson” Rim Country Health has a special outreach program available to everyone in the area, its Community Wellness Program, which it introduced in 2011. It presented a series of free twice-monthly educational programs and bimonthly free sessions in its gym.
The 2012 Community Wellness Program educational presentations will be from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. the first and third Thursdays of the month.
The topic this month was fall prevention. Coming up will be: osteoporosis exercise, February; joint replacement exercise, March; seated exercise, April; conservation as a way of life, May; stretching techniques, June; body mechanics, July; caregiver education, August; joint replacement surgery, September; living with Alzheimer’s, October; wheelchair positioning and postural strengthening, November; emotional well-being and activity, December.
The gym will be open from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. the second and fourth Thursdays. It is newly remodeled and activity is supervised by a certified physical therapist. New participants at the open gym must have written clearance from their primary care provider indicating that it is OK for them to exercise.
Rim Country Health is located at 807 W. Longhorn Rd., Payson. For more information on the Community Wellness Program, call (928) 474-1120 and ask for rehab director, Lisa Schultz.
Christy Walton’s Zumba Gold class, held at 9 a.m. Wednesdays in the community room at Rim Country Health’s apartment complex, is another outreach project of the facility.
It is an event open to the public built around Zumba, the popular Latin dance fitness program. It is a “slower” version that Walton has offered at other sites. She charges $2 a week and the proceeds benefit the Payson Senior Center, one of the venues where Walton held the class before joining the staff at Rim Country Health.
As an extension of the program at Rim Country Health, Walton is hosting a Zumbathon to benefit the Payson Christian Clinic on Saturday, Feb. 11. Sponsored by Rim Country Health, the event is from 10 a.m. to noon at the Payson Senior Center, 514 W. Main. Tickets are $12 in advance and $15 at the door. Tickets are available at Rim Country Health, 807 W. Longhorn Rd.; Curves, 400 E. Highway 260; and the Senior Circle, 215 N. Beeline Highway.
The day will start with a mini Zumba lesson at 9:45 a.m., followed at 10 a.m., with a Zumba Gold session and from 11 a.m. to noon with a regular Zumba session.
Participants can get pledge forms at the above locations or from the Web site rimcountryhealth.com.
The Web site is also the place to learn more about Rim Country Health.