Concerns over Caring House prompt unannounced visit from Gov. Rhodes

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Concerns brought forth by residents and staff members of the newly opened Skilled Nursing Facility prompted Governor William R. Rhodes to make an unannounced visit to quell any possible misgivings he might have had.

"I'm glad that I came now," Rhodes said. "I'm hearing complaints of dissention among the people that are here and I expect something to be done about it."

Accompanying Governor Rhodes were Councilman Jewel Whitman (D2), Councilman Myron Schurz (D3), Acting Chief of Staff Ben Notah and Community Managers Tina Notah-Enas and Alex Yazza. Upon arrival the group was given a tour of the facility, also known as the Caring House,
by Mark Klein, Administrator for GRIC's Skilled Nursing Facility.

Among the concerns Governor Rhodes addressed were Community members going elsewhere for hospice services; response times between Certified Nursing Assistants (CNA) and patients; and the housing and service of two disruptive individuals who were not considered elderly.

Governor Rhodes was concerned with the hospice unit, which was void of any residents at the time of the tour, and questioned Klein as to where the unit's patients would come from. Klein responded that patients could come from either hospital referral or from the patient's home if he/she had become too much for the family to manage.

Realistically, the Caring House doesn't offer hospice services themselves. They outsource these services. Which means they do have contracts in place with some of the larger providers in the valley but they haven't had any referrals by their providers.

In noting that some Community members are going elsewhere for hospice services, Klein assured Rhodes that the Caring House is definitely ready for hospice residents.

"Some hospice patients can be taken care of at home and don't require this level of care," Klein said. "We are just waiting referrals. If families know that their relatives require hospice services, then they should refer them to the facility."

On the subject of response times, Community Manager, Tina Notah-Enas reported that she's heard that in certain circumstances assistance could take upwards of one to two hours.

"We're always going to get those complaints," Klein said, "But that's not going to happen." According to Administrator, 65 to 75% of the residents housed at the facility require nine or ten medications, which calls for nurses to consistently attend to their rounds to administer the meds.

"We have adequate staff for our population," he said. "We have a lot going on and are constantly trying to recruit residents to activities. We try to keep that communication open."

Concerns over two disruptive young men who were currently being housed at the Caring House were brought forth to the Governor. He questioned the justification of their residency at the facility and if their recovery would be better facilitated at a hospital.

In emphasizing their disruptive behavior, Rhodes said, "I hear they stay up late at night and play cards until the early morning hours. They also have a radio and turn it up loud. It bothers the residents but everybody is afraid to say anything to them."

Klein knew exactly who the Governor was speaking of and also noted that these residents have been difficult to deal with. However, in an effort to facilitate Community members who need therapy but not hospital-level care, Klein felt their residency at the Caring House was justified. As these patients become medically stable, he said they will be moved back to their places of residence.

"We have confronted them about their behavior and that we're a Skilled Nursing Facility and it won't be tolerated," Klein said.

At press time, Klein has stated that the two young men in question have completed their course of therapy and have been discharged to their respective homes.

"We take all allegations and complaints seriously and look into them," he said. "When we get calls from family members or staff, we investigate them."

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