The Times West Virginian

February 9, 2014

Quality of care top priority for Genesis

By Jessica Borders
Times West Virginian

FAIRMONT — As Genesis HealthCare grows, the quality of care of the residents remains its top priority.

The company has established a new operational model that focuses on having an in-house, full-time physician and nurse practitioner at each of its facilities, and locations in Fairmont and across West Virginia are benefitting from this change. This expansion has been made through the company’s subsidiary, Genesis Physician Services.

In July 2013, Dr. Robert Romano joined the staff of Genesis HealthCare’s Pierpont Center and Wishing Well Assisted Living, housed together in one building, and the next-door Tygart Center. He and nurse practitioner Sharon Senft are at this Fairmont campus, located on Country Club Road, every day taking care of residents.

Cindy Farley, senior director of sales and marketing, explained that Genesis HealthCare began as a publicly traded company in 1985 and is the largest provider of skilled nursing services in West Virginia and the United States. It has more than 400 centers across the country, including 34 in the state, and is a significant employer in the local area.

“Being the leader means that we have to always be on the cutting edge and be looking to set the standard,” she said.

In 2009, Genesis HealthCare took over the Fairmont facilities, which were formerly known as the Wishing Well centers and had been located in the community for many years.

Wishing Well Health Center, now Tygart Center, was built in 1974. Wishing Well Manor, now Pierpont Center, opened in 1987, and Wishing Well Assisted Living was later added onto the building and kept its same name during the transition, said Cathy Fleece, executive administrator for Pierpont Center.

Then in 2011, both facilities underwent complete renovations. Tygart Center is equipped with 119 beds, Pierpont Center has 120 beds, and Wishing Well Assisted Living features 52 beds.

Across West Virginia, Genesis HealthCare now has seven full-time physicians and seven full-time nurse practitioners at its centers, and is hoping to add more of these professionals soon, Farley said. Some centers don’t currently have full-time doctors but have nurse practitioners on site.

“When we started getting more acutely ill folks, then we realized that a (physician) visiting once a month really didn’t service the folks in the same way,” she said. “So we started looking at the model of having full-time physicians in our buildings to give that higher quality of care.”

The company’s model concentrates on post-acute care as well as long-term care in a controlled environment, said Romano, who has been practicing medicine for 19 years. Born in Charleston and raised in Clarksburg, he worked in urgent care for most of his career, and had his own practice for about six years.

Genesis HealthCare provides the next level of care to bridge the gap between hospital and home.

On a daily basis, Romano is able to adjust patients’ medications and assess and treat their concerns about acute issues, alleviating a lot of their psychological pain and suffering as a result. He said he can help keep individuals out of the emergency room and the hospital, which also means cost savings for residents and their families.

Farley added that this type of treatment provides a better quality of life for patients, who don’t have to be disrupted from their rehabilitation by going back and forth to the hospital.

Romano can provide a variety of care and treat all age groups. With the baby boomer generation now in the over 65 age group, there’s a huge elderly population that needs treatment. In terms of the younger patients, rehabilitation is needed for everything from post-traumatic fractures to hip and knee replacements, he said.

The facilities work with many short-term, rehab-to-home patients, and physical therapy is done on site.

“A lot of the residents come in because of the rehab,” Fleece said. “We have excellent rehab. Our rehab staff gets really excited when they see somebody doing well.”

She said the residents love having Romano and Senft on site and interacting with them.

“It’s a big benefit for our nurses as well to have support from a nurse practitioner and a doctor on site,” said Brandon George, guest service director for the Tygart and Pierpont centers.

As guest service director, which is a new position within the company, his job is to advocate for the needs of residents, who can range anywhere from 18 years old to 90 or 100 years old. He talks with new patients on a regular basis to see how they’re doing and make sure their stay is going well, and checks up on individuals who transition back to home.

“Genesis has a commitment to the residents,” Fleece said. “Genesis cares about the residents, and that’s part of the culture change having a guest service director, having the physicians here on site.”

Genesis HealthCare provides valuable, quality services to the community. Pam George, regional marketing director, said people who have lived in Marion County for any amount of time have probably known someone who has been at the Fairmont Campus.

The company prides itself in making its facilities as home-like as possible, she said. The local centers feature family spaces, resident lounges, theater rooms, dining areas and cafes, outdoor courtyards, and even gift and beauty shops.

“We’ve taken care of a lot of local people,” Pam said. “We’re local people taking care of our own.”

Email Jessica Borders at jborders@timeswv.com or follow her on Twitter @JBordersTWV.