Blair County nursing homes listed among Pennsylvania’s finest

(Altoona Mirror) Four Blair County nursing homes were ranked among the 98 best in Pennsylvania.

U.S.News & World Report ranked Hollidaysburg’s Garvey Manor and the Presbyterian Village at Hollidaysburg, and Martinsburg’s Homewood at Martinsburg and The Village at Morrisons Cove as some of the best nursing homes in the state, according to findings from the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

The homes were judged on state health inspections, the average number of hours of care recieved each day per resident from the nursing staff, and care received based on the percentage of vaccinations given and the percentage of residents with such ailments as bed sores and urinary tract infections. Fire safety deficiencies are also calculated.

“It’s a significant responsibility we’ve been given to provide the highest quality of life and care for seniors,” Presbyterian Village at Hollidaysburg’s Executive Director Deb Larkin said Friday. “When you talk to most people in the industry that is what they want to do.”

A feeling among industry officials is the rating system is flawed, however, because it changes month to month as new information comes in, she said.

The report doesn’t give a “true picture,” Homewood Executive Director Arlene Clark said.

Homewood is second in Blair County for the amount of hours nurses care for residents daily, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Health, but it only earned a three out of five stars ranking under the category in the U.S.News & World Report.

Epworth Manor in Tyrone, Valley View Home and Golden LivingCenter-Hillview received four-star overall rankings. Altoona Center for Nursing Care, the Luthern Home at Hollidaysburg and Hollidaysburg Veterans Home received three-star overall rankings.

Attempts to reach some of the lower-ranking facilities for comment were unsuccessful.

The Cambria Care Center in Ebensburg is listed as a special-focus facility for a record of poor care and will be monitored until improvements are made, the report states.

Making gold stars isn’t a day-to-day focus anyway, Larkin said. Instead, the staff and administration focus on improving every day on two levels – the daily basic quality and care for the clients while engaging residents, family and staff; and the long term, focusing on strategic goals and taking the community to a higher level.

“Having a staff that truly cares and is truly here for the right reasons makes a difference,” she said. “Also, really trying to make the environment like home.”

Clark said the mission of the Christian-based facility drives the staff.

“Our staff do uphold the customer services and the highest standards as part of Homewood’s mission,” she said.

A staff member told Larkin a story recently about helping a woman pick out what earrings she was going to wear for the day, and while doing so took time, it was the best part of the employee’s day. The story is an example of what the home needs to get to and be on a daily basis, she said.

“It’s hard to put into words,” she said. “You have to feel it.”