State health officials find Heritage a nice place to live

Posted: Sunday, August 28, 2005

Vince O’Reilly, the 78-year-old former mayor of Kenai, thinks Heritage Place is a nice place to live.

Last week, inspectors from the state Division of Public Health agreed.

The Soldotna nursing facility received a zero deficiencies report from the state agency following a purposefully unannounced visit by three inspectors, according to Dennis Murray, Heritage Place administrator.

While O’Reilly, dubbed the “Mayor of Heritage Place” by the staff, enjoys being offered two choices of meal entrees and says the soups and desserts are “excellent,” what impresses him most is what he describes as “institutional compassion.”

“That’s difficult to achieve,” O’Reilly said Monday.

In addition to reviewing the facility’s programs and compliance with state a federal rules, the three inspectors who visited during the week of Aug. 15, also met with Heritage Place residents in a closed-door session without any staff members present.

Murray said the intense scrutiny by the state is indicative of “the desire of the country that good care is provided.”

“Zero deficiencies mean we’re doing the right thing in the community,” Murray said.

He said the inspectors, who visit without advance notice every 12 to 18 months, looked primarily at the care residents are receiving.

Areas of interest included dietary programs, care plans for each individual resident, activities at the nursing facility and resident records, Murray said.

Part of the survey process also includes a look by the state fire marshal at life safety and state fire code compliance, he said.

Saying nursing homes are “probably one of the most scrutinized aspects of health care in the country,” Murray said much of the information used by the inspectors during their survey came from quarterly federal reports Heritage Place had furnished to them.

The passing grade received by the nursing home “assures the public we’re doing our job,” Murray said.

O’Reilly said he agrees with the zero deficiencies report.

“I receive excellent care,” he said.

“I had the experience of living in an assisted-living facility in Kenai (for one year), and there’s no comparison.”

Besides the food, he said he likes the security, 24-hour nursing staff and number of resident assistants on staff.

He also said he likes the facility’s “philosophy that governs the place like your own home.”

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