Legislature Improves Nursing Home Care
Legislature Improves Nursing Home Care by Emma Krasov
By : Emma Krasov : 4/12/07
Russian Orthodox icons were shining with gold
leaf in a small chapel, while nursing home
residents listened to a CD of biblical stories, read in Russian.
It was happening last Thursday, in one of those
hidden places in Castro Valley, very few local residents are aware of.
St. John Kronstadt Care Center, a 49-bed nursing
home, founded by the Church of All Russian Saints
in Burlingame, has a fair percentage of
Russian-speaking residents, and a fair number of
activities and improvements to be proud of.
Theres been a tremendous amount of change
since the Assembly Bill AB 1629 passed, said
Aaron Scott, the facilitys Administrator. We
were able to increase wages, provide health
insurance for employees, buy electronic
equipment, repair roof, and improve the quality of food.
On a menu, displayed in big letters by the
kitchen, Russian borsh and cabbage rolls were
listed as a standing feature among other ethnic staples.
The Medi-Cal Long Term Care Reimbursement Act (AB
1629), which the state legislature passed
overwhelmingly in 2004, took effect at the end of
2005, and essentially brought long-anticipated
improvements in care for the states 110,000 most vulnerable residents.
Currently, due to the increased funding and
quality care incentives built into AB 1629,
nursing homes all over California are investing
in improvements such as better staffing, higher
wages, and upgraded facilities and programs.
Im working on this issue statewide, said
Isobel White, who represents California United
for Nursing Home Care, and I have to tell you
that St. John is one of the best facilities weve
found in terms of making tremendous leaps to make
life better for its residents. Theyve reduced
staff turnover, improved morale, and completed
major facility upgrades to create a much more comfortable environment.
The bill increased Medi-Cal nursing home funding
by basing reimbursement on a facilitys actual
cost of providing care. For decades, the Medi-Cal
reimbursement system has been underfunded.
Nursing homes received a flat Medi-Cal
reimbursement rate that did not cover the actual
cost of care. California was one of the few
remaining states with a flat-rate structureand it wasnt working.
A coalition of senior advocacy organizations
including the Congress of California Seniors,
Gray Panthers, Older Womens League and
California Alliance for Retired Americans, along
with nursing home operators, residents, their
family members, worked together to create a
system that would improve funding and hold
nursing homes accountable for quality care.
As a local example, a Castro Valley nursing home
that had struggled with a high staff turnover
rate, roof leaks, and outdated equipment has
become a modernized, attractive residence with
electric beds and lifts, a new roof and
temperature control, dietary improvements and a
significant reduction in staff injuries and patient falls.
The home was also able to raise wages and improve
benefits, resulting in improved staff retention rates.
We reduced staff turnover from 60% to 25%,
boasted Scott. We were able to become competitive.
With his closest associates, like Dana Peevy,
Director of Nursing, Rimma Kuznetsov, Business
Office Manager, Sharon McCoshum, Director of
Staff Development, and others, the Administrator
has ambitious plans to improve the homes yard
with walkways and a fountain, and to keep the facility growing.
If the name of the home is any indication, a
Russian priest John Sergieff (1829-1908) gained
his sainthood by providing help to the Kronstadt
population, suffering from poverty, misery, disease and starvation.
Castro Valleys John Kronstadt nursing home
offers a number of therapeutic and restorative
programs, creative outlets, and social activities
in addition to licensed nursing care.
For more information, call 889-7000.
Photos by Emma Krasov.