Vashon Community Care receives high governmental rating

The nursing home’s rating has improved greatly since director Mike Schwartz took the job last summer.

Mike Schwartz, director of Vashon Community Care (VCC) said a rejuvenated leadership team has taken the nursing home in a new direction.

He credited their expertise and experience after The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid awarded the island facility a five-star rating, which Schwartz said is critical to supporting the best outcomes for residents.

Schwartz, who has worked for the Bellevue-based nonprofit Transforming Age — which operates VCC — for several years, became director following an interim period in the job last summer. Upon his appointment, VCC was considered below average by The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid and given a two-star overall rating in its national five-star rating system.

But as of January, said Schwartz, VCC is now a five-star facility overall across several categories, as found in a complete report available online.

“There’s a lot of hard work and dedication that goes into it,” he said.

In a June 2018 evaluation, VCC was rated lowest in staffing and quality measures, receiving one star each in those categories. The results were compiled in a report using information from recent inspections of VCC and data that both VCC and residents self-reported about staffing, culture and quality of care, among other markers.

In the most recent assessment, VCC was rated three stars in quality measures and five stars in staffing. Schwartz said that while there have been improvements, facility quality measures were hardest to control and depend on a number of factors, including VCC’s operating size and resident condition upon arrival. But the biggest gains, he said, were in staffing.

“In order to provide great care in the ever-changing environment that we work in, it’s important to train our staff, and we are giving them the tools and knowledge to carry out their jobs safely, and most importantly, more efficiently,” he said.

Schwartz named the Director of Nursing, Jeb Korvilius, as an example of a successful change in leadership, noting that Korvilius comes with great experience, is well liked, and that staff is interested in following his lead.

“They want to be providing great care too, and you don’t always have that in this industry. Our mission is doing what’s right for people,” said Schwartz.

Schwartz said the new five-star rating at VCC will present the nursing home with opportunities for greater partnerships with Washington hospital districts — leading to more resident admissions — as well as improve Medicare reimbursement rates. Meanwhile, he said VCC is building systems and programs for providing a better quality of life for residents, calling it “life enrichment,” with ongoing activity development, advanced therapies and programs planned for both residents in long term or short stay medicare rehabilitation.

Schwartz said that the work did not end there: The building has suffered from general maintenance and infrastructure problems for some time, and the issues range from old carpeting to a poor roof. Thanking islanders for past contributions to VCC, Schwartz said that a new development director will join the staff this month to oversee a capital fundraising campaign to help offset the costs of needed repairs, with more details coming later in the year.

But looking ahead, Schwartz said that he and the staff are committed to maintaining the highest level of care excellence possible at VCC.

“My goal is that VCC continue to develop our leadership team, but also to continue to be a place … where anybody can enjoy great care and have opportunities to learn and grow as we all like to do,” he said.