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A nursing home with an eye on the next generation

Like virtually all New York State nursing home managers, Greg Chambery’s job at Maplewood Nursing and Rehabilitation is a constant balancing act.

  Providing the best possible care to frail elderly residents and post-surgical patients while keeping a facility financially afloat can seem like diametrically opposed imperatives.

  In New York, Medicaid, which pays most nursing home residents’ expenses, reimburses homes at less than it costs to provide care. Nursing homes have to make up the difference by charging higher rates to privately paying residents and by courting post-surgery rehabilitation business, which is more generously reimbursed by Medicare.

  To stay competitive in both arenas, homes must not only be up to date medically and competently staffed but attractive and comfortable, a dictum that has not been lost on Chambery.

  "Greg’s emphasis on resident satisfaction and creating a different atmosphere here started long ago," says Gary Sacco, Maplewood’s recreation director of some 17 years.

  A third-generation owner of the for-profit facility, Chambery has run Maplewood for a quarter of a century.

  "The biggest challenge is staying ahead of the game," he says, "seeing what the next generation is going to be looking for."

  When he started in the business, Chambery says, cable-TV hookups were an oddity. Most residents coming into the nursing home then had not had cable in their homes and often did not see the need for it. Still, he had Maplewood wired for cable. Now, he says, Maplewood is a fully wired hot spot, a feature particularly appreciated by surgical rehab patients, many of whom consider an online connection a virtual necessity.

  To help attract the well-off residents and rehab patients needed to offset Medicaid losses, Chambery several years ago built a section of luxury grand patio suites at Maplewood and put in an adjacent upscale cafe.

  But high-end appointments alone do not make a nursing home successful. A key to making Maplewood attractive to clients is a focus on families as well as residents and patients.

  Chambery "has never wanted family members to see visiting loved ones as drudgery," Sacco says. "The experience should be inviting and fun. We’ve always encouraged family members to join in events and explore the facility."

  Staffing is the final key to successfully running a skilled nursing facility, Chambery says. Aides, nurses and others need to be engaged with residents and attuned to their needs. Chambery believes the best way to ensure this is to give staff a measure of autonomy. Staffers empowered to make decisions take their jobs more seriously and are happier in their work, he says. Though state law does not require such training, all Maplewood aides are certified nursing assistants. Chambery helps new hires gain such certification if they do not have it.

  His staffing policies have paid off, he says. In an industry with an average staff turnover rate of 150 percent, turnover at Maplewood is 15 percent.                     

3/18/11 (c) 2011 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or e-mail [email protected].

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