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Jeanne Sager | Democrat

PAM HURLEY IS the administrator of the county-run and -owned Adult Care Center in Liberty, which has received high marks from the state.

Adult Care Center Top-ranked by NYS

By Jeanne Sager
LIBERTY — December 22, 2006 — There are three notes in Pam Hurley’s desk drawer – they’re the reason she goes to work every day.
Each written in the scrawling hand of an elderly woman, they contain random anecdotes about the day-to-day life at the Sullivan County Adult Care Center in Liberty.
“Thank you,” one says, “for allowing me to talk your ear off.”
After six years as administrator of the county-owned and county-run nursing home, Hurley said it’s these letters that make her feel she’s doing something right.
These days, she has the facts and figures to prove it.
The New York State Health Department recently unveiled a new Web-site that compares nursing homes in the state with one another and with national averages.
The county sent its information in to Albany for inclusion, and learned that in 19 categories, they’d scored a perfect “5 out of 5 stars” for more than half.
The 160-bed facility matched or outranked state averages in 14 of those quality measures and outstripped the national averages in all but two.
The categories run the gamut from the percentage of patients who have suffered from urinary tract infections to the percentage of patients who had to be restrained to their bed.
As the county nursing home looks to celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2007, Hurley said they’re happy to know care for their residents is topping expectations.
Traditionally, county-owned facilities were opened for the indigent and the hard-to-serve, she explained.
In the Liberty facility’s case, that could mean an Alzheimer’s resident who needs constant observation or someone who fell and broke their hip but will eventually be going back home.
These days, rehab residents are a large portion of the folks receiving care in Liberty, and the people moving in aren’t always from Sullivan County.
Anyone can call the facility and ask for placement. The case is reviewed, and a determination is made based on the beds available and the individual needs.
The facility then bills Medicare, Medicaid, health insurance or even the family.
It’s a tough business. Hurley said the typical Medicaid patient will only generate half the revenue of someone with Medicare because of the way the government operates.
But the Adult Care Center operates at more than 90 percent capacity from year to year (they’re at about 97 percent right now), and they hold their own.
The quality measures prove it.
“We don’t care about whether we’re better than Achieve [in Liberty] or Roscoe [Community Nursing Home],” Hurley said. “We care about how we rank compared to state and national averages.
“I think it’s always been a well-run nursing home,” she continued. “We’re working on always trying to improve the quality of care we give.”
In the last two years, inspections by the New York State Health Department found that any complaints were corrected immediately with no substandard quality of care issues.
On follow up visits, no deficiencies were noted.
From June 2005 to June 2006, seven inspections made to the facility resulted in no citations issued.
For Hurley, the real triumphs are the low numbers – the 0 percent of residents who spend most of their time in bed or in a chair, the 1 percent of residents who had to be restrained.
“We try NOT to restrain people,” she noted. “We put the beds low to the floor, we put the siderails down, we try to do as much as you can.”
It’s a life quality issue as much as a care issue, she said.
That’s why they put emphasis on ensuring residents get enough to eat – tied to the low 5 percent of residents who lose too much weight according to the quality measures.
And they have activities to keep their minds and bodies as “young” as possible – reflected in the 5 percent figure of residents who are depressed or anxious.
The facility also runs a successful daycare program – allowing seniors who can live on their own in the community a chance to gather in Liberty to spend time with other seniors.
The county provides transportation, and the adult care center serves as a meeting place.
For many seniors, it’s the one and only chance to get out of the house, a much-needed socialization period.
Helping to make residents’ lives better is a “great” staff, Hurley explained.
“They’re here because they care about their job,” she said. “They care about the residents.”
The facility employs 200 staffers, and a family council (with open membership to the families of every resident) serves as a support system.
The council meets with management monthly to provide feedback, and holds fund-raisers that pay for not only items used in the facility but prizes for the staff “Gotcha Award.”
Hurley, who came to the facility in 1997, served first as director of nursing before becoming administrator in 2000.
Coming from Public Health Nursing, Hurley said her administrative focus is unique in its emphasis on quality of care.
She holds a master’s degree from Binghamton University’s Decker School of Nursing, and she said her nursing background brings with it a heightened awareness of the clinical aspects of running an adult care center.
“We look at the quality of care and the quality of life for the residents,” she said.
She urges families or even potential residents to look at nursing home profiles like those made available just recently by the state’s health department.
“They’re trying to make more information available to the community so families can make more informed decisions,” she explained.
With top scores, the adult care center in Liberty is open to anyone aged 18 and up.
Residents can be placed in as little as a week, Hurley said.
For information, call 292-8604.

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