Archived Story

MCF rates five stars

Published 10:54pm Wednesday, February 22, 2012

CASSOPOLIS — Cass County Medical Care Facility, 23770 Hospital St., received just four citations during its annual survey and enjoys a five-star rating — highest possible — from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
Encore, a rehabilitation company the MCF contracted in January 2011, “has done wonderful things during its first year as part of the team,” Administrator Merri Terborgh said Wednesday.
Terborgh, who lives in the Marcellus area, worked for Cass County Council on Aging for 11 years and for Borgess-Lee Memorial Hospital in Dowagiac for 15 years before becoming administrator in October 2008.
She had served on the 80-bed facility’s board of directors and as a consultant and also worked for Community Hospital in Watervliet as director of care management and quality.
With 138 employees on three shifts, “It’s like its own little city with three days of supplies on hand and our own state-inspected generator to be self-sufficient,” she said.
Physical and occupational therapy occurs seven days a week, with speech therapy also available.
Community members more frequently are short-term guests checking in for rehabilitation, then returning home.
The rehabilitation department has helped amputees devastated by the loss of a lower limb go home, proudly walking out of the facility on two legs, independently.
Wounds that normally take weeks to mend are being healed in several days with diathermy machines.
Rehab is undertaking a new program to reduce urinary incontinence.
Terborgh said the independent financial audit presented to the non-profit’s board in January cited finances “substantially in the black.” Auditors gave the MCF a “clean” audit with no recommendations for change — “the highest ratings we can give.”
Landscaping was completed, remodeling of the smaller family and employee cafeteria is underway and a bid has been awarded for remodeling the front lobby of the 1976 facility.
As the industry has changed, so has the MCF.
“We are providing many services that once were unheard of in the skilled nursing home setting,” Terborgh said.
“IVs, wound vacs, picc lines, serious wound care are becoming common-place.
“We have met these demands by focusing on RN care, higher-than-average staffing levels and an experienced nursing director who is also a nurse practitioner.”
Census remains high, but unlike previous years when the MCF had a waiting list, it now finds beds become available on a regular basis as individuals coming to stay only for rehab get better and return home quickly.
The MCF enjoys a mix of residents — those staying long-term and those “just passing through on their journey to return to independent living” — from ages 41 to 102.
Many residents wear feathers and that doesn’t count wild turkeys that bop on windows for food. Inside, there is an aviary, the cooing of doves mingling with water splashing down a terraced fountain near a fresh-water aquarium.
Or, maybe wild turkeys are monitoring a facility that serves their plump brethren twice each Thanksgiving — once on the weekend and also on Thursday to accommodate extended families’ schedules.
“This place was never gloomy or depressing,” Terborgh said.
“It’s light, pretty and airy. Families love it here. I’ve turned it around a lot, but I don’t take credit for that. They feel like it’s their home away from home,” especially when 300 fill the courtyards for a hog roast picnic with brats, burgers and a bouncy tent or residents “eat their weight in shrimp” at parties.
“We do stuff for the residents and not a corporation someplace, which makes a lot of difference,” she said. “We have six activity aides and do activities seven days a week. Our folks don’t sit slumped in a wheelchair. They’re doing stuff. We have a Red Hat club, Wii bowling” and, inspired by NASCAR, race smaller “Casscars” in the dining room over nonalcoholic beer and pretzels.
In warmer weather, a deck overlooks two ponds.
“For New Year’s and occasions like that the residents always want polka music. We just had a Sweetheart Ball for Valentine’s Day with a disco globe in the ceiling, shrimp and slider hamburgers, strawberries dipped in chocolate and tons of fruit, crackers and cheese,” she said, adding with a laugh, “I’ve got to get this place ready before I get here.”

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