By Deborah Moon Seldner
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Rose Schnitzer Manor has joined its sister facility Robison Jewish Health Center in obtaining the highly elusive no-deficiency rating from the state's Dept. of Human Services.
RJHC, which as a nursing home is inspected every year, has had a no-deficiency rating for the past three years and several other times in recent decades. As an assisted living facility, RSM is scheduled to be inspected every other year, but due to the state's shortage of inspectors this is only its fourth inspection since the first inspection when it opened in 1998.
An amazing staff of dedicated professionals, low staff turnover and a vibrant resident council have combined to make the manor's quality of service as beautiful as the building, according to RSM Administrator David Kohnstamm, who has been employed at the facility since it opened.
"You can build a beautiful building like this, but it's not automatic that the service will also be beautiful," said Kohnstamm. "You need to build the systems inside as well. When Rose Schnitzer Manor was built, the systems had to be invented. ? We've been open eight years and we are hitting our stride in terms of systems so the quality of our service matches the quality of the building."
Kohnstamm emphasized RSM has been dedicated to excellence since its creation, but since assisted-living facilities were still a relatively new phenomenon in 1998, many processes had to be invented or adapted.
Kohnstamm attributed much of RSM's successful quest for excellence to the lon-
gevity of the staff. Kohnstamm, who started working on the Cedar Sinai Park campus as a volunteer right out of college in the activities department of RJHC, has been at RSM since it opened. Director of Health Services Tina Turvey has held her post seven years and the lead Registered Nurse Linda Bifano has been at the manor five years. A second RN was added to the staff last month. Many line staff have also been at the manor since it opened, said Kohnstamm.
And staff turnover overall has been just 5 percent in the past year, which is superb and incredibly low for the industry, according to Kohnstamm.
Medicalnewstoday.com reported in an April 22, 2004, article that national studies have shown employee turnover at nursing homes and other long-term care facilities to be close to 100 percent a year nationally. A Stackpole & Associates seminar that same year billed itself as the solution to help senior facilities reduce turnover rates that typically range from 40 to 70 percent.
RSM and RJHC both have very low turnover.
"CSP as a whole is able to provide good working environment for staff," said Kohnstamm. "They're not making a ton of money, but they have good benefits and the resources to succeed."
Since 80 percent of the facility's cost is employees, Kohnstamm said it's easy to see why corporations running long-term care facilities tend to cut staff to bare-bones levels. That, coupled with a lack of respect, leads to high levels of burnout, he said.
"We have enough people on the floor so they can succeed," he said. "So they stay because they are not put in an impossible position."
Additionally, Kohnstamm said all employees at CSP are valued professionals.
"It's a special person who can do this work," he said. "Every person on the team is valued and respected. Housekeepers and aides are not menial laborers. We are proud of the work they do."
Another industry rarity, said Kohnstamm, is the partnership with administration that the resident council has formed.
"We have a vibrant resident council that works in cooperation with the administration to make this the best facility we can be," said Kohnstamm. "Because the resident council is so strong, and healthy and well-led, residents feel they can be part of the solution instead of a complaint club."
Under the presidency of David Singer, the council has helped implement changes ranging from adding a bench at a needed location to revising the facility's smoking policy. The food committee has worked with the culinary staff to improve offerings in the dining rooms by offering doable suggestions, according to Kohnstamm.
RSM joined the 80-year old Robison Home on the Cedar Sinai Park campus in 1998. Including the already existing 20 independent living apartments in May Apartments and the Shlim wing added in 2002, the manor now has a total of 161 apartments. Before the Shlim wing was added, RSM had a waiting list, but Kohnstamm said now one or two apartments often are available.
For more information on RSM, call 503-535-4004.