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Prescott Daily Courier: VA - A step in the right direction

August 26, 2018 GMT

When the Northern Arizona Veteran Affairs Health Care System was notified by national officials in June that its nursing home facility in Prescott, the Community Living Center, ranked as the lowest VA of any in the country, the distinction was a black eye for the facility.

The ranking, at the time, led Medical Center Director Barbara Oemcke to promise improvement from the one-star rating of the 85-bed capacity nursing home on the main campus of the local VA. Rankings for such facilities are 1-5 with one being the lowest.

The rankings, in part, specified a need for improved pain management and attention to potential falls and some physical improvements to the center, including the attention to water temperatures in the bathrooms of patients. The center is a specialty unit that provides both long-term nursing care as well as skilled rehabilitation and hospice care.

But making a promise and keeping it are two different things. To her credit, Oemcke has delivered on that promise in the last two months. In that time, the VA has corrected deficiencies at the center, which currently has 65 patients, and earned a two-star rating in its latest review. The 162-acre campus is in the midst of a two-year construction period to enhance and upgrade the aging facility. The $30 million project features new construction, remodeling and renovation of the center in order to enhance services for in-patient and out-patient veterans.

When the ongoing improvements are complete, Oemcke said she is hopeful that federal VA leaders will be open to upgrading and enhancing the long-term scare space.

The VA is also seeking to bring new administrative leadership on-board and fill vacancies that have prompted clinical staffing shortages. Oemcke’s mantra has been one of patience and perseverance. We believe she is taking the necessary steps to improve the center, and also urge patience and perseverance from the community during the process.

— Prescott Daily Courier