After some challenges in transition to private ownership, nursing home poised for improvements
ALBION – The change from a county-owned nursing home to a private ownership hasn’t been without glitches, some nursing home employees and the union president for the employees have told Orleans Hub.
After a difficult beginning – payroll mistakes, supply shortages, understaffing and unsatisfactory food – the union leader said the situation is improved.
The union credits Martin MacKenzie, the new administrator for The Villages of Orleans Health and Rehabilitation Center, for working hard to address issues raised by employees and residents.
“Martin is a godsend,” said Dylan Miller, president of the employees’ union. “He is definitely working to better the facility.”
MacKenzie started on Feb. 2. He worked the previous three years as administrator for the nursing home owned by Wyoming County in Warsaw. He remains a consultant there.
He was hired to lead the 120-bed nursing home in Albion, which is now owned by Comprehensive Healthcare Management Services LLC. That company paid $7.8 million for the nursing home and took ownership on Jan. 1.
The company is looking to renovate the lobby, a rehab/gym room, and some of the hallways on the western entrance that lead to the Board of Elections and the alternative education program for Albion Central School. There are also plans for new flooring and lighting, and expanded recreational programs including concerts.
MacKenzie said his top focus is care for residents, and that means he will work to make sure the employees have what they need to do their jobs.
MacKenzie is a registered nurse who has worked in the healthcare field for two decades. He started as personal care aide for patients with cerebral palsy in Niagara County.
He has pitched in at The Villages, helping to feed residents and walk them to activities. He has stayed late on bi-weekly payroll periods the past two paydays, making sure the paychecks were accurate.
“I think he does care,” Miller said. “I feel he is an advocate for the residents and the staff.”
Miller said the union still has issues with supplies – food, diapers, cleaning products – sometimes being in short supply.
He would like to see a full staff to make sure the place is clean and residents get timely care.
Miller and some employees interviewed said the nursing home lacked leadership the first month. It showed with dissatisfaction in food, payroll errors and piled up laundry. (Some workers didn’t get paid overtime and in some cases, straight time, issues that still need to be resolved, Miller said.)
A new food service provider was only offering one choice for meals, down from three choices from the previous operator. The new vendor is now offering two meal choices and will work to offer three.
MacKenzie said a new food supervisor is starting this week as well as a registered dietician. He is pushing to fill certified nursing assistant and licensed practical nurse positions.
The facility had 148 employees under county ownership and now has 130. Miller said understaffing has made it a challenge for workers to get all of their work done. If they need to stay late for overtime the request is often not granted.
MacKenzie said filling the CNA and LPN positions is a priority.
“It’s the CNA that makes or breaks the place,” MacKenzie said during an interview on Tuesday.
He is pleased with the dedication from the employees, and the level of participation from residents and families. He established a Family Council and the first meeting had 28 people in attendance, up from the 6 to 8 that usually attend those meetings at the nursing home in Warsaw.
“The staff here has impressed me,” MacKenzie said. “It’s a top-notch crew. I’ve worked at a lot of places. This home has a very friendly atmosphere. I know that’s a cliché. Everybody here is polite, even the residents.”
MacKenzie said The Villages also is in good shape as a facility. The county spent about $10 million in a renovation and expansion in 2007.
Orleans, like many county-owned sites, began to see big deficits as government reimbursements failed to keep pace with the costs. MacKenzie said half of the county-owned homes have either been sold or closed in recent years, with more likely to sell, including in Genesee County.
“The heart of the story here is there are still 120 seniors being taken care of,” MacKenzie said.
He said he also is impressed with the principal owners at Comprehensive, who are looking to invest at the Albion facility.
“I believe they will have a premiere nursing home here,” he said. “I am part of a company that is growing.”
He acknowledged there is work to do at The Villages as the new ownership settles in. He expects many of the issues raised by the union to be resolved soon.
He said he keeps an open door to employees, residents and their families.
“My number one priority is the residents and the front-line caregiving staff,” he said. “Communication with families is a priority. I will not let them down.”