Nursing homes earn a passing grade in study

Port Orchard’s major nursing facilities appear to fall into one of two categories — getting better and already excellent.

The rankings were released last week as part of a federal pilot study to assess the quality of care being administered at nursing homes and care centers in six states, including Colorado, Florida, Maryland, Ohio and Rhode Island, in addition to Washington. Federal authorities have always inspected Medicare and Medicaid-certified facilities, but this was the first time the results had been made widely available.

According to the study, Port Orchard’s Ridgemont Terrace got the highest marks, with a total of no health deficiencies reported. The Washington State Veteran’s Home at Retsil was found to have seven deficiencies while Port Orchard Care Center had nine.

Studywide, facilities in the six-state database turned in as many as 34 deficiencies, but the average in Washington state was eight, which puts the Veteran’s Home and Port Orchard Care Center squarely in the middle.

Overall, the average number of deficiencies per nursing home was about five.

It should be noted that none of the defects identified in Port Orchard represented a life-threatening situation.

“Often it’s just a deficiency in record-keeping,” said Alfie Avarado-Ramos, assistant director of the Washington State Veteran’s Affairs of the faults found at Retsil. “We wish we had zero (deficiencies), but if you look at the state average, there’s some things that can’t be avoided.”

Likewise, the picture at Port Orchard Care Center is better than it may seem at first glance. While the facility was shown to have a total of nine deficiencies, each was ranked on a scale of one to four in terms of severity, and none of Port Orchard Care Center’s defects amounted to more than a level two.

“It was very, very good compared with past surveys,” said Port Orchard Care Center Administrator Larry Oden. “There were no immediate jeopardies to the residents.”

Which is not to say there aren’t problems to be fixed. The point is, as Oden points out, many already have been. And on the basis of this study, the facilities shown to have problems now know what areas must be addressed.

In short, the study says the status of nursing facilities in Port Orchard is average at worst, excellent at best, and improving in all respects.

RV park won’t be missed

The only question anyone should have about the decision by Port Orchard’s City Council last week to close down the municipal RV park was it was so long in coming.

The decision, which came as a result of a 4-3 vote, with Mayor Jay Weatherill casting the deciding vote, came after a reconsideration of an earlier vote to sell the park and use the money to invest in another piece of land.

The city still hopes at some point to use the five-acre parcel on which the RV park sat as a park, complete with picnic tables and hiking trails. Certainly the lush vegetation on the site and its location alongside the Blackjack Creek Gorge offer plenty of scenic possibilities.

But of late, the facility has proven popular mostly with transients and drug traffickers. Port Orchard police officers are kept busy just about every night responding to complaints of crime, fighting and drug activity. And since there was no on-site caretaker for the facility, the problem never figured to get much better.

The park proved a magnet for undesirable characters, to the horror of its law-abiding neighbors — including a daycare, whose owner can now lead her young charges on nature walks secure in the knowledge the only wildlife she’ll encounter is of the four-legged kind.

We’re not certain what the city will ultimately decide to do with the site, but we’re confident some use can be found that will make it a community asset. For the moment, we’re just gratified it’s no longer the liability it had long-since become.

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