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9.25.15 Issue

by Ozzie Nogg

Following a recent inspection by the State of Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services, the Rose Blumkin Jewish Home earned a perfect score on the Annual Health Survey. “This was the best review the Home has had in the past 20 years,” said Mike Silverman, MPA, Executive Director of Jewish Social Services. “The inspectors found no deficiencies. Not one. I’m so proud of the Blumkin Home staff. We demonstrated to the State Health Department the exceptional teamwork, camaraderie and unparalleled care that we provide in this facility. When you have a staff that concentrates on quality and compassion, this is what you get. The best review possible.”

During the Home’s annual review, inspectors assess RN staffing, general staffing, medication management, resident rights and quality of life, nursing home administration and environment, as well as food services. “We’re so fortunate to have Mike Aparo in charge of our kitchen,” Silverman said. “He knows how to execute meals for a nursing home, and — since we’re a glatt kosher nursing home — that really takes  skill. Aparo has it.”

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAThe kitchen staff at the Home understands they’ll be reviewed annually, but the timing of this year’s inspection was a surprise. “They showed up unannounced on a Sunday which is virtually unheard of,” Aparo said. “They try to catch you off guard.” Over the course of three days in the kitchen, the inspectors used Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) — a management system designed by the Food and  Drug Administration that focuses on the prevention of food safety problems before they occur and is accepted by international authorities as the most effective means of controlling food-borne diseases.

“The inspectors evaluated the kitchen and the culinary staff to make sure we were in compliance with HACCP in all sanitation requirements,” Aparo explained. “They watched to see how hygienically the food was handled, and if the foods were properly cooked, reheated and cooled. They checked refrigerators and freezers to make sure foods were stored at the correct temperature so the chill chain is protected. They monitored every item, from the time it arrived on our dock to the time it was served to the residents. They tasted everything, including the pureed food, to determine palatability and nutritional requirements. We passed every test.”

For Aparo and his team, working at the RBJH is much different from working in a restaurant kitchen, where any given menu item is always prepared the same way, with the same ingredients, regardless of who orders it. “Food Service at the Home is not as easy as throwing food into the oven without regard for the residents’ individual needs,” Aparo said. “Let’s say we’re serving tomato soup. We have to take that soup recipe and alter it to make sure our residents who are diabetic get tomato soup with no sugar, or that residents with hypertension get tomato soup without salt. Recipe adaptations, due to various dietary restrictions, are called meal extensions, and we often have to alter a recipe in 19 different ways to accommodate the medical and nutritional needs of our residents. The staff truly cares. Most of them are tenured, which shows how much they enjoy what they do. Working at the Blumkin Home is a calling. You have to want to serve the elderly.”

According to Natalie Osborne, Blumkin Home Nurses Manager, the annual survey assures that the Home meets regulatory requirements mandated by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid. “Our job is to ensure we meet those requirements, but we want to exceed the requirements and give our residents the best care to satisfy their needs and expectations.”

Osborne knows the nursing staff is top notch, but survey time can still be nerve wracking. “The first day is a rush. The management team gets together and everyone contributes a piece of the puzzle. There are so many forms to prepare — nursing staffing for the week, meals for the week, activities held during the last three months, disaster preparedness plan, contracts for hospice and dialysis, policies for visiting pets, immunizations, medications, facility layout, incident reports. The survey requires us to count the number of residents with certain diagnoses or who take particular medications, receive special diets or physical therapy and psychiatric interventions. We have to document those who need assistance with dressing, toileting, mobility, eating and bathing, have fallen, have had a significant weight loss or don’t speak English. It goes on and on. And then, during the three days the inspectors are in the building, we fret anxiously and hold our breath, waiting for the results. This year when the inspectors said, ‘We find the Rose Blumkin Jewish Home in compliance with all Federal and State regulations’, the cheers were deafening. We had done it.” (FYI: the cheers were even heard on Facebook and Twitter.)

Richard Jacobson and Steve Nogg, Co-Presidents of Jewish Senior Services, praised Silverman and the RBJH staff. “I’m very proud to watch this team in action everyday,” Nogg said. “Their attitude and passion makes for real success.” For Jacobson, the perfect survey rating “exemplifies the level of care and service we provide at the Blumkin Home. I’m so proud to be involved with this organization. They’ve created a culture unlike any other I’ve seen.”

Choosing a nursing home or long term facility for a loved one is often an emotional process. “Moving from one’s home to a nursing home is a big life change,” Silverman said. “The results of the Annual Health Survey by the State of Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services attest to the quality of the skilled care we provide at the Blumkin Home. Equally important are personal visits to the Home so prospective residents and family members can get a feel for the environment and see, first hand, how residents are being cared for. Stop by anytime. Obviously, we’re up for surprise visits.”