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Heritage Estates reaches milestone — an injury-free workplace

May 17, 2019

GERING - Heritage Estates was recognized for its workplace safety with a steak lunch in appreciation for 200,000 hours without an injury this week.

Ed Remm, safety coordinator of Vetter Health Services, and several staff members made the journey from Omaha to cook lunch for their colleagues at Heritage Estates. Jack Vetter, the owner of Heritage Estates’ parent company proposed the idea - if one of their companies could go one year without an injury, they would cook steaks for that staff.

“It took a couple of years to get there,” Remm said. “It took us three years to get to one (injury), and now this one is my third in three weeks.”

The program has turned out to be successful in more ways than one. From the home office to the local office, everyone has fun hosting a free steak lunch. Remm said there have been a few changes in the meal over the years, including the addition of chicken, a vegetarian option and green beans and bacon everyone loves.

“We have even said, you can change whatever you want on the menu, but don’t mess with the beans,” Remm said.

Health care and the nursing home industry can be unpredictable. Remm, who has also worked in the steel industry, said injuries there and in construction are, to some degree, predictable.

“With the manual handling (of clients), it’s unpredictable and there’s a lot of exposure to injury,” Remm said.

The company has high standards, known as world-class, which are difficult to meet, but the facilities that are considered world-class also perform well in being injury free. Remm said he has seen the camaraderie in teams as they work together over time. He sees happier employees and more relationships develop between them.

At Heritage Estates, there is a low turnover rate of staff, which Remm believes adds to lower at work injuries.

’When team members have longevity, they build those relationships with each other and help each other,” he said.

Heritage Estates also hits all their other targets. Kim Johns, community relations coordinator, credits Remm’s role and his desire to help staff to be better as well as being on the lookout for ways to improve.

Johns said the commitment staff at Heritage Estates receive from the home office crew is unsurpassed.

“They are there for us, at our beck and call, on the phone or they drive out here,” she said.

October 2016 was the first time Heritage Estates reached 200,000 hours. Their second time was last month on March 8. The program allows for a facility to either reach a year or 200,000 hours injury-free. This is due to the size of different facilities.

“To level the playing field, we introduced the hours,” Remm said. “Once they reach it, their next goal would be 400,000 hours.

Johns said staff in her building felt this was a fair benchmark and is looking forward to the next 200,000 hours. Her staff were elated at their accomplishment.

“When you have employees working 24/7, there are so many ways you could have an injury,” she said. “It is harder to accomplish than you think.”

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