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Area nursing homes highlighted for short-term care

Free Press - 11/17/2019

Nov. 17--MANKATO -- The goal for short-term nursing homes is to improve patients enough for them to return to regular life.

Five area facilities recently earned recognition for high performance in that metric and others.

U.S. News and World Report's recent nursing home ratings highlighted Mankato's Oaklawn, Laurels Peak, Ecumen Pathstone Living and Hillcrest facilities along with St. Peter'sBenedictine Living Community.

The report used data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to rate nursing homes on either short-term or long-term care. The metrics included patient outcomes, nurse staffing, rehabilitation therapy and facility complaints among others.

Oaklawn, Laurels Peak, Hillcrest and Benedictine all fared average in long-term care. The five area nursing homes were all above average in certain short-term care measures, including the percentage of patients who received flu vaccinations and staffing. They also all had a low or reasonable number of complaints.

Hillcrest ranked highest in fall prevention, Pathstone had the lowest percentage of patients needing emergency room visits, and Laurels Peak was best at providing more than the minimum amount of therapy to patients.

Megan Kilian, registered nurse and administrator at Hillcrest, said fall prevention has been a focus at the facility. It requires a fast staff response once call lights come on so residents don't feel like they need to get up without help.

"I know it's something we pride ourselves in, having our name out there and knowing we're taking good care of the residents," Kilian said.

Theresa Hildebrandt, Benedictine's administrator, called the ratings nice recognition for the facility's nursing and therapy teams.

"We're very excited as a facility to be recognized on our short-stay side," she said. "I think we've been in the past few years very intentional about those who come in for short-stay rehab to have good experiences."

Short-term rehabilitation is commonly needed to regain strength following surgeries such as hip and knee replacements or health scares like strokes. The length of rehabilitation varies from resident to resident, but getting them back to their previous living situations is one measure of success.

Hildebrandt said having a consistent care team in place makes a difference, as they're the ones who'll notice residents' progress. Consistent nurse staffing was another common theme among the facilities in the report.

Whether it's days or weeks at Hillcrest, the patient should at least leave at the same level they were at before they needed rehabilitation, Kilian said.

"We want to get them back to their prior level of function or even better than that if we can," she said.

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