Ridgewood Health Services in Jasper is celebrating a rare accomplishment in the nursing home profession. The Alabama Department of Public Health recently declared the facility “deficiency free” for the second year in a row. The “deficiency free” designation signifies the skilled nursing care center meets all the state and federal requirements for nursing homes.

To give you an idea of how rarely this happens, the American Health Care Association said only 7.9% of Alabama’s 227 nursing homes were declared “deficiency free” as of September 30, 2018.

“We have really worked hard, and we are so excited,” said Administrator Andrea Burton about how the staff reacted to the news. “We know that we have a good home, really good staff and give really good care. It’s very gratifying when some one from the outside validates what we do.”

Ridgewood Health Services Director of Nursing Dewonica Samuels and Administrator Andrea Burton.

The results came after a team of state inspectors spent four days at Ridgewood Health Services. The annual review covers every aspect of how care is delivered to the nursing home’s residents and patients. The team reviews medical records, follows nurses as they makes rounds and administer medication, interviews residents and staff, inspects food preparation and mealtime and everything else. According to Burton, the team’s initial entrance into the nursing home sets the tone for the rest of the inspection.

“When they first come in, they automatically come in and walk the halls. They’re evaluating the residents’ appearance. They want to make sure they’re (residents) in a safe, clean and homelike environment. Honestly, the very first impression kind of dictates how the rest of the survey is going to go. If they come in and they can see certain things are not how they need to be they are going to look deeper into that.

Focusing on what matters

Nursing homes operate 24/7 and must meet specific government criteria in more than 140 areas while caring for individuals who have multiple medical and physical needs. These circumstances make achieving “deficiency free” status a rare occurrence. According to the American Health Care Association, only 7.9% of Alabama’s 227 nursing homes were declared “deficiency free” as of September 30, 2018. That provides context for the uniqueness of Ridgewood Health Services earning a second deficiency free survey in a row. Reaching and maintain this level of success is difficult to do.

“We’re a smaller nursing home and our staff may wear all types of different hats, but that is what makes our bond so strong,” Burton said. “We all pitch in to help one another, which in turn forms a great team. Dewonica Samuels, our Director of Nursing, and I work the halls alongside them. We work as all for one and one for all. We don’t have complacency because we all chip in and work together.”

Burton identifies with families whose loved one lives at the Ridgewood Health Services because her father is a resident of the facility. She personally finds this level of quality care reassuring.

“Having that deficiency free gives me confidence in knowing that my family member is going to be taken care of even when I can’t be there” Burton said. “It makes me feel confident and safe in knowing that I can go on a vacation or I can go somewhere for a couple of days and not have to worry if my father is being cared for.”