WAYCROSS — The picture becomes something different on the inside.
Without his perspective as vice president of Administration and Advancement of Baptist Village Communities, Eric Mathison wouldn’t fully appreciate what it takes to receive a zero deficiency rating by a federal survey by a nursing home.
Such facilities receiving funds through Medicaid and Medicare are subject to federal inspections. However, while state inspections occur annually, years may pass between those of the federal variety. The last federal inspection Baptist Village experienced came 30 years ago, said Mathison.
“You don’t get advance notice,” he added. “We basically prepare every day for an inspection.”
On July 6 Mathison celebrated his second anniversary with Baptist Village Communities, an agency of the Georgia Baptist Mission Board with facilities in Waycross, Lake Park near Valdosta, and Macon. Before that, he’d served as pastor of First Baptist in Waycross. During his time there, he became involved in the ministry at Baptist Village and member of the Board of Trustees.
“I thought I knew a lot coming out here as a pastor and board member,” he remembers. “I knew little.”
“A zero deficiency survey inspection is an unbelievable achievement for any facility. But, for our 254-bed nursing home to perform that well is nothing short of remarkable,” Mathison pointed out.
Want an idea of the regulatory morass the Baptist Village staff have to wade through? For one, this is the federal government, not known for its brevity when concerning stipulations. The size of the initial set of regulations, Mathison said, resemble old-school dictionaries and encyclopedias, the books that served as that age’s Internet and were sturdy enough to hold up a corner of a child’s bed. The interpretive guidelines to the regulations are twice as big.
Consider it. Out of more than 250 senior adults come a myriad of factors. Depending on their condition, they can only be moved a certain way with various steps outlining the approved methods. Food must be prepared at a certain temperature, then presented to residents at a different certain temperature. Activities have to modified according to patients’ abilities. Hot water must maintain a specific temperature, always.
Where it works
Despite the number of regulations, Mathison understands the purpose. Further, he acknowledges that himself and Baptist Village President Delos Sharpton have one view of what goes into the day-to-day operations of the nursing homes. Chief Operations Officer Summer Stipe and her staff, Mathison pointed out, deserve the lion’s share of the credit.
“She’s where the rubber meets the road,” he stated. “She looks at everything we do and makes sure we adhere to these policies. Any organization with success has someone like her.”
Baptist Village received a zero deficiency rating from the state two years ago, a figure Mathison estimates only seven percent of nursing homes –most with fewer patients – achieve. Facilities don’t know an inspection is about to happen until inspectors stand in the lobby. And while the state conducts its every year, federal inspections can, apparently, go decades between visits.
“In all honesty, [inspectors] are here to make sure we’re doing what we’re suppose to do,” said Mathison. “They’re here to make things the best for these residents we’re serving.
“None of us in this profession are perfect because of a zero rating. However, if you’re looking for a place for your mom or dad, you want to find one with folks who are doing everything they can to follow the guidelines and do it right.
“We want to make the operational aspect clear. We’re serving God by taking care of these senior adults.”