Amid renovations to convert a portion of the center that once housed Alzheimer’s patients (Wing 3), the board took a brief break to redirect attention to other matters.
Former board member Judy Gee was honored for her 10 years of service to the board. Members expressed their well-wishes and presented her with a plaque before she left the meeting.
“You are always in my sight and in my prayers,” Gee said, reminding them she lives nearby and would always remember the board and staff as she drove by.
Tom Geren, a social services assistant at the center, died last week after suffering a heart attack.
Center administrator Dennis Burtnett discussed how much Geren would be missed by staff and residents alike, mentioning his good sense of humor and problem-solving abilities.
“Residents are still asking for him,” Burtnett said.
Staff had met that morning and decided to offer a monthly staff award in his memory. The “Tom Geren Monthly Excellence Award” will be given out to outstanding employees.
Burtnett said a state inspector visited the center last week — the same day Geren died — to investigate one complaint and four “reportables.” He said the center was not cited for any violations and applauded the staff for maintaining the center well under the stress of losing one of their own.
To address business that had already been presented at last month’s meeting, Burtnett gave an update of the progress of Wing 3’s construction. He said it is 65 percent done and that the goal is to have it finished by the end of April. Burtnett added the staff would “play it by ear” to see exactly when people can start moving into the wing.
The board also discussed recent personnel changes that have left several staff vacancies in the center.
The “current census count” of residents and patients at the center was 183 for the previous month, but the number of staff vacancies for nurses and certified nursing assistants remained above desired levels.
Board member Wendy Beck said the center routinely tries to keep staff above the numbers legally required, meaning they are just now getting down to a low staff number. The center has been trying to fill more than a dozen staff positions.
Burtnett said he has helped implement a program that would offer incentive bonuses to any employees who refer new applicants who get hired on at the center. However, he stressed residents are still getting the services they need because of staff working overtime hours.
“The fact that we’re down that many doesn’t necessarily mean we’re down that many on the floor,” said Burtnett.
Board members discussed how they have had few applicants for the open job positions but expressed hope upcoming high school and college graduations might mean more heading their way.
The center’s board meets monthly.