Care Center earns five-star rating

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John and Karen Youngblut have found a five-star place they can both call home. John lives in Eagle Ridge Independent and Assisted Living with the family dog, Lexi, and Karen lives in the adjacent care center. (Photo submitted)

By Molly Moser

Forty percent of all nursing home residents live in one- or two-star facilities (as reported by the Kaiser Family Foundation in May of 2015), and recent changes in the rating system have made reaching the top even more difficult. “According to U.S.A. Today, nearly one third of the nation’s nursing homes are getting lower scores,” said Guttenberg Care Center Administrator Dr. Janette Simon. “Only 22 percent of the 15,505 nursing homes in the U.S. are five-star rated. Iowa is among the highest rated in the country.” 

Guttenberg Care Center, owned by ABCM Corporation since 1984, recently earned its second consecutive five-star rating from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. During a week-long, unannounced visit, inspectors check over 500 points by interviewing residents and their families, quizzing staff, observing nurses and CNAs, reviewing social supports, and even watching kitchen staff cook an egg. 

“I attribute our five-star rating to our high retention rate. We have an 84.6 percent retention rate with 146 employees,” Simon told The Press. “Turnover kills quality.” Care Center staff enjoy consistent assignment and self-scheduling as well as regular training and empowerment by leadership. 

John Youngblut lives in a two bedroom apartment in Eagle Ridge Assisted Living with his dog, Lexi, and his wife, Karen lives in the care center. They are enjoying their time together and say, “The people truly care about you and are interested in the individual.”   

Each year, a group of stakeholders including residents and staff choose a project to work on together. This year’s vision is to prevent and control infection. New federal guidelines inspired this vision. “One of our focus areas will be on urinary tract infections because they’re so common in the elderly,” explained Simon. “Two years ago our plan was on holistic approaches, so we’re going to implement some of our holistic measures specific to bladder health such as cranberry juice and other nutrients.”

“Under the medical direction of Dr. Michele Dikkers and Bernie Davis, director of nursing, citizens in the Guttenberg area have access to quality healthcare not enjoyed by most rural areas,” Simon said. “Guttenberg Care Center is part of a continuing care community, with outpatient therapy, clinic and health care, assisted living, skilled care, nursing home and hospice services, to help people remain as independent as possible.”

The Guttenberg Care Center earned its first five-star rating in August of 2016. “One perfect state inspection is like spotting a yeti – but two consecutive inspections is like inviting him to dinner,” Simon laughed. “I tell my staff, ‘Don’t sit back on your laurels. It’s tougher to stay famous than to get famous.’”

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