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Employees may buy Valley Meadows

by Merrie Leininger

Valley Meadows Living Center is attempting to get in touch with the community and get past all its legal and financial troubles.

Jim Heinzen, administrator and now, court-appointed receiver for the facility, said the center now has plans for becoming employee-owned.

While the owner of the center, Carson-Tahoe Hospital, is in litigation with the past management company, Premier Health Care Services of Arizona, Heinzen said he is in charge of the “on-going welfare and the financial health of the facility.”

He must report all the expenditures and payments to the court. Heinzen said in addition to a $1 million loan and rent, Premier has not paid local and national vendors for items such as bread and milk for six months.

Heinzen stressed the quality of care for the residents has not diminished and, in fact, is better than it has been in eight years.

“It all boils down to resident care,” Heinzen said. “It has to be clean, comfortable and provide a high quality of life for the residents.”

During a press tour of the facility Thursday afternoon, the residents could be heard singing along with a guest musician and Heinzen said residents and staff had just finished baking banana bread that morning.

The state issued a substantial compliance rating for the first time in eight years. Two years ago, while Carson-Tahoe was managing the center, the center received a substandard rating, the state put an admission freeze on the center and took over management.

Heinzen said a month ago, the center sponsored an open house and a job fair, resulting in 18 new hires.

The center now has 102 residents to 109 employees; 70 of those are licensed nurses.

Getting rid of poor employees and making all the staff more accountable helped improve patient care, Heinzen said. He also put in highly visible patient-care charts to make nurses more accountable.

“If somebody needs help, I can just look up to the chart to see who is assigned to his hall and go find them,” Heinzen said.

He also has involved the families more by making the monthly family councils into family dinners in which relatives can discuss resident care and other issues.

Improvements he hopes to make include moving the nurses’ station into a room and ripping out the station that now takes up the common area between all the bedrooms. Heinzen said he wants to put in a indoor gazebo-type area with plants, benches and a fountain.

“The center with nurses and 100 charts in the middle of their living room is a constant reminder they are not home. I think the park-like area will make things a lot calmer,” he said.

The Record-Courier E-mail: rc@tahoe.com

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