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Nursing home earns five-star rating

Nov 6, 2012 - By Alejandra Silva, Staff Writer

The Morning Star Care Center, a nursing home facility located in Fort Washakie, has been ranked five out of five stars by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The 45 bed skilled nursing home, owned and operated by the Shoshone Business Council, has had its share of struggles over the years but has managed to put quality care at the top of the list for its residents.

"We're working really hard to work together to provide the best level of care," said Marc Martin, the administrator at the center.

He said the center often decides to spend more money on medication and other necessary services rather than kick out residents.

The Morning Star Care Center has also been recently recertified by Medicare and Medicaid. It was found to be in full compliance with health codes even though there were several allegations that the home was being negligent and not following certain health codes, Martin said.

MSCC was also given a five-star rating in health inspection, staff rating, quality measures and registered nursing by The Nursing Home Site.

Team challenges

The nursing home has 58 employees who service 38 residents, who have to be at least 55 years old.

As the senior population grows, the center is having a hard time keeping a team that can adapt to health regulations that are revised on a regular basis. Martin said that makes it difficult for staff members because of the way they are trained.

"Every day the health care industry changes, and we have to make those changes," Martin said.

He said that it is difficult to hire a qualified and reliable staff, and the center often recruits from cities outside of Fremont County.

"We have a team environment, and we take time for our residents," said Jackie Cavanaugh, the director of nursing at MSCC. "Our goal is to make their life worth living."

Financial struggles

At MSCC, 95 percent of the residents are Medicaid patients, which places a financial burden on the home.

"Management will normally make sure a certain percentage is for the lower pay (Medicaid) and a larger percentage is for the higher pay source (Medicare A)," stated a media release from the home. "This will insure the facility will remain profitable."

Martin said the average resident stays about two and a half years, which is a longer stay than is found in other nursing homes.

MSCC has had difficulty keeping the home profitable, but Martin said the goal for MSCC remains clear.

"If there's a person out there that needs our care, we try our best to help them," Martin said.

The Morning Star Care Center, along with two other nursing homes in Fremont County, services only 2 percent of the increasing senior population, which Martin said is very low.

He said he would also like to see more native influence at the home although, he said, the traditional, native way is to keep parents at home for as long as possible.

The nursing home also offers physical, occupational and speech therapies, and it specializes in dementia and Alzheimer's disease, to name a few.

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