Extended Care Successfully Passes State Visit, Patient Care Receives High Marks

Teresa Watkins, seated left, a resident of New Community’s Extended Care Facility, gets her blood pressure checked by Licensed Practical Nurse Maria Cruz.
Teresa Watkins, seated left, a resident of New Community’s Extended Care Facility, gets her blood pressure checked by Licensed Practical Nurse Maria Cruz.

New Community Extended Care Facility recently celebrated a successful visit by state surveyors who conducted an intensive on-site review of the nursing home’s facilities and the quality of care given to residents.

From February 11 to February 20, officials from the New Jersey Department of Health observed all of the care and services provided to residents of Extended Care. The stamp of approval that Extended Care received earns the 180-bed capacity skilled nursing facility in Newark its license renewal for another year.

“Congratulations on successfully completing the advisory standards survey conducted at your facility on 02/20/2015,” wrote Barbara Goldman, Assistant Director of the Office of Certificate of Need and Healthcare Facility Licensure Program under the New Jersey Department of Health, in a letter dated March 9. “We appreciate your efforts to provide your residents with a high quality environment, and we hope our recognition of this effort is helpful to you in continuing to achieve a high standard of care in your facility.”

The successful state survey could mean more good news for Extended Care later this year, Facility Administrator Robert Smolin said. “I hope that this survey will catapult us into a five-star rating,” he said. “This was a very good survey.” Last year, Extended Care earned an overall four-star rating from the Medicare.gov report called Nursing Home Compare. In the report’s category for “quality measures,” which looks at how well residents are being cared for, Extended Care was rated five stars.

The visiting group consisted of a five-member team—two registered nurses, a pharmacist, building inspector and registered dietician. “They pretty much look at the building from top to bottom,” Smolin said.

Surveyors visited every resident room and closely examined operations, medical records, Environmental Services, medication administration, social services and recreational activities. They spoke to residents and their family members and even ate meals at the Culinary Cafe and inspected the kitchen, in which they found no deficiencies.

“Our goal is to make sure we provide the best quality care we can,” said Director of Nursing Veronica Onwunaka. The surveyors, she noted, were all very experienced and astute in their observations.

After spending hours each day at Extended Care, the surveyors only identified four low-level deficiencies such as a missing sprinkler head. Smolin and the staff followed up by submitting a plan of correction report. “All the staff should be very proud,” Smolin said after the survey. “It was a real team effort.”

Surveyors spoke privately with nursing home residents like Teresa Watkins to discuss any concerns about resident welfare and treatment. There were no issues needing to be addressed regarding abuse or mistreatment of resident’s rights, according to both Watkins and Extended Care officials.

Watkins, 49, has been at Extended Care since August of 2014 and says she’s satisfied with the care that she has received. “They have very good nurses and aides I’ve been dealing with,” she said.

Many healthcare professionals acknowledge that the state survey, which is an unannounced visit, creates some anxiety for the staff.

“Even though it’s a normal routine we do every day, we have to make sure it’s up to their standards,” said Maria Cruz, a licensed practical nurse. Nursing homes in New Jersey must meet the requirements outlined in two thick binders—for the New Jersey Department of Health and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services—containing more than 600 regulations.

“I felt pleased our survey went very well this year,” said Robyn Moses, a licensed practical nurse on the fourth floor of Extended Care. “We prepare, really, every day by making sure we do everything according to the policy and procedures of the facility.”

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