EAMC-Lanier nursing home upgrading as it moves beyond COVID

Published 7:58 am Friday, July 22, 2022

VALLEY — The administrator and the director of nursing for the EAMC-Lanier Nursing Home were guest speakers at Wednesday’s noon hour meeting of the Kiwanis Club of Valley. Allison Yarbrough, the administrator, and Jennifer Hunt, the director of nursing, talked about the nursing home’s transition into a post-Covid era.

With the elderly being especially vulnerable to illnesses like Covid, the nursing home isn’t taking any chances. “We are kind of on the other side with Covid,” Yarbrough said, “but we are still testing and masking up. All the staff tests every day. If one resident tests positive, we consider that n outbreak.”

The nursing home went through a lockdown in early 2021 due to a pretty serious outbreak. All in all, though, EAMC-Lanier has fared much better with Covid than many other nursing homes.

EAMC-Lanier Nursing Home is currently going through a major renovation. It’s taking place in six phases in a manner that causes the least disruption possible. Some of the rooms being upgraded haven’t gotten any major work since the hospital was new in the 1950s. There’s a maximum of 103 beds. That’s down to 72 while the construction is going on. It will be back to 103 when the work is completed.

“Our goal is to renovate our rooms for the benefit of our residents,” Yarbrough said.

Yarbrough and Hunt brought some 8 x 10 color photos showing how nice the like-new rooms and hallways are looking.

A much needed geriatric psych unit is ready for service but is awaiting state approval, “We have had to send some residents to facilities with such units,” Yarbrough said. “It will benefit us when we have our own unit.”

Hunt said the nursing home is in need of staff help. “We need CNAs and LPNs to work with us,” she said. “We have an RN in our facility at least eight hours every day. We usually have at least four LPNs every day.”

Incentives are available for those who seek certification. “You get paid while going to school,” Hunt said. “Anyone who is looking for this type of j0b can contact me.”

CNAs can start at $12 an hour. That can go up to $18 an hour with experience,

While EAMC is competitive with the pay it offers, Yarbrough said that health care isn’t doing as well as a lot of people think, “The pay is not what it was during the height of Covid, and it’s hard to get employees. Some nurses still expect to make $65 a hour. They were making that during Covid.”

Yarbrough said that families with aging loved ones need to be prepared for that time comes when they need to be admitted to a nursing home. It’s all a part of life.

“You need to be prepared for it,” she said. “We won’t take your money or your house. There’s a charge-by-day fee that can get up to $4,000 a month, everything included. If you can’t afford it, we won’t turn you away. You are either institutional Medicaid or Medicaid applying.  There are different requirements. You have to have less than $2,000 in liquid assets. You can pay or be Medicaid applying. “

Yarbrough said that in nine out of 10 situations, family members don’t know the financial situation of an aging loved one.

Something that’s happened post-Covid is that the age of nursing home referrals is getting lower. “My main concern as a nurse is that people get the care they need,” Yarbrough said. “I just want people to realize that it’s better to be prepared and not need to be than to be unprepared for something when it’s needed.”

The youngest person in the EAMC-Lanier Nursing Hone is someone in the twenties with a disability. The oldest is a woman who recently celebrated her 100th birthday.

“We love our residents,” Yarbrough said. “We have an awesome activities department. You can follow this on Facebook. We have had visits from the ice cream truck and even had some fishing out back. The residents really enjoy taking part when we have something special going on.”