CCMSD gets new upgrades, honors

Hough announces nursing home award, new additions

By Sarah Pridgeon

More positive changes are taking place within Crook County Medical Services District, says CEO Nathan Hough. As well as the start of a renovation project for the emergency department and CT scanner, the hospital boasts a new bus for transporting long term care patients and end-of-life rooms for the comfort of patients and their families.

Thanks to a grant secured by Long Term Care Manager Jamason Schmidt, matched by a donation from a family through their loved one’s trust, the district has been able to purchase a new van for patient transport.

“It was truly community funded. It’s wheelchair accessible, ADA compliant – just what we needed,” says Hough.

“It’s pretty clear to me that the community is telling us what they want done at this organization.”

The van will replace the older vehicle that has been used for many years to transport patients for appointments in other healthcare facilities.

“It’s very uneconomical and not very user-friendly. This is going to be a really nice addition,” he says.

Through donations from the families of patients of the Long Term Care unit, the district is also ready to unveil new family rooms intended to provide care and comfort in end-of-life situations.

“One of the things that have been recognized by our community is that we really didn’t have anywhere to support the families and patients during the process of end-of-life,” Hough says.

“They used to have a hospice program here at the hospital but they don’t have that any more – and I don’t know that we need one anymore.”

Backed by the USDA and Sundance State Bank, Hough says, the project to renovate the CT scanner and emergency department is projected to start this month and will hopefully be complete by September.

“It’s exciting to be this close to getting it done,” Hough says. “It’s going to be a really improved patient environment, we won’t have to go outside to do our CTs and we’ll have all of our imaging equipment right by the emergency department if somebody needs access to that quickly after coming in on an ambulance.”

At the moment, two old operating rooms are used as overflow for the emergency room – but walking into one is like stepping back in time, Hough jokes. Those two rooms will become homes for the CT scanner and x-ray machine, while the current x-ray room will become an updated and modernized trauma room.

“The quality of the equipment that we’re getting as part of the Helmsley Foundation grant, there’s not even a comparison, really,” he adds. “It’s much more detailed, much clearer pictures and less exposure for the patients – it’s absolutely a step in the right direction and a big advancement for this organization.

Meanwhile, Hough says, the nursing home has received a Women’s Choice Award as one of America’s Best for Extended Care.

“We’ve been recognized as one of the top in the nation by that organization,” he says.

The Women’s Choice Award is described as a symbol of excellence in customer experience, awarded by “the collective voice of women”, according to the organization.

“One of the things they do is check the federal registries on our survey data. The way healthcare is set up is that it’s governed under the federal government and the state has some of its own laws,” explains Hough.

States perform surveys of healthcare facilities following those federal rules, he continues, and can add in rules of their own. The results are reported to the federal governing bodies.

“Women’s Choice looks for the top-performing organizations in the nation, that’s one piece of it,” he says.

The other pieces include reports on staffing levels, quality, infections and other items. These are all taken together to create a picture of the care given at a particular facility and the top rated are selected for waters.

The news follows hot on the heels of another “outstanding” annual survey for the nursing home, Hough says; rule changes that have hit other facilities in the region hard were successfully met in Crook County’s facility. Most issues that were noted on the survey were very small indeed, he says.

“I’m proud of my guys,” Hough smiles. “We did such a good job here that they actually got written up for a cigarette butt out on the street in front of the nursing home – that’s the kind of thing they had to look hard to find.”