BHRC leaders eye challenges of change

Posted 1/22/18

Employees of the Bradley Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center, especially the battle-worn administrative staff, believe the care center is the brightest jewel among the county's collective …

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BHRC leaders eye challenges of change


Employees of the Bradley Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center, especially the battle-worn administrative staff, believe the care center is the brightest jewel among the county's collective assets.

BHRC is the only county-owned care center in the state that does not have to depend on local government for operational funding.

To say the facility is self-sufficient does not lessen the challenges of state and federal mandates and requirements, which have increased substantially in recent months. 

Administrator Scott Oliver emphasized recently that there has always been the involvement of government in the day-to-day operation of health care facilities, adding that the most recent incursions have been a little overwhelming.

This is a little difference than in years past, he said, as he and new Director of Nursing Tammy Ledford reflected on around 500 changes, tweaks, or amendments to federal regulations.

Oliver's primary complaint is that many of the changes are being administered by people who have little or no experience in medical and/or elder-care fields.

He said with education, you have educators who make amendments and adjustments. But, he claimed, elder care does not get similar treatment.

Oliver said it is a "hand-down" from the White House, where regulators are being true to President Trump's words, and attempting cutbacks on the number of federal regulations. He says what they've done is taken regulations from one place and rolled them into another — with little direction for what is being requested.

Oliver and Ledford agree  the greatest difficulty of the  regulatory amendments seems to be interpretation of the changes being made and requested.

There also appears to be a lack of medical expertise by the creators of the regulatory changes.

BHRC administrators point out that requirements for the care and treatment of their residents cannot be blanket coverage. The needs of a resident may differ greatly from treatment or care  of the patient in the next room.

But, the BHRC staff and administrators are focused on providing the best care possible for roughly 170 residents each day. They have learned to step up to the challenges of caring for Bradley County residents, and say there is no better place to work.

"We wouldn't be here if we didn't love our jobs," said counselor Julia Goodowens.

The facility's top nine administrators have worked almost 140 years at the county facility, despite only three years for Oliver and one other.

Becky Crabtree has the longest tenure, with 35 years. Others include Sandy Brock (22 years), Kirk Anderson (20 years), Janice Allen (17 years), Goodowens (15 years), Ledford (12 years), Sabrina Owens (seven years), and Kayla Elser and Oliver with three.

This group and staff have attempted to adapt to the new regulations, but it is has been difficult. Oliver emphasized,  "The only constant in the industry is change."

"We provide a friendly, Christian environment, great food, and we try to give our residents the best care and treatment possible," the administrator said.

His administrators agreed, pointing out that the facility's turnover rate is far less than other facilities in the health care industry. Many of BHRC's 175 nurses have been with BHRC for years, like the administrators.

Oliver said the staff is thankful for the involvement of the Bradley County Commission, and the progressive nature and confidence of its board of directors. Two commissioners, Bill Winters and Robert Rominger, serve on the board.

BHRC recently completed a celebration of its 60th year of operation, and is looking ahead to the next 60.

The idea of the nursing home was sparked on Dec. 1, 1955, when the Bradley County Commission accepted a proposal from the state of Tennessee to share in the cost of building and equipping such a facility, and to determine a 10-acre site for it.

A community fundraising campaign followed, and on July 15, 1957, the board of directors of Bradley Memorial Hospital was authorized to operate the nursing home.

On Jan. 20, 1975, the commission created a Nursing Home Board to oversee operation of the facility, which remains in place today.

The name was officially change from Bradley County Nursing Home in September of 1997, the new designation being more accurate in relation to its mission and function.

The county owns the facility, but operation is solely given to the board of trustees. Bradley County also does not provide any funding of its operation.

BHRC opened in November of 1957 with 51 beds. In 1978, 52 additional beds were added. There were two other additions, 68 beds in 1981, and 66 in 1984.

The facility now operates 213 beds under Medicare, Medicaid, managed care, and private billing. 

The many regulations and requirements for the facility over the years have the current staff of caregivers and administrators once again attempting to live up to new mandates.

They emphasize it is a challenge to provide quality care and treatment  for Bradley Countians, but believe they have done well to date.


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