St. Joseph’s granted Medicare license

BUCKHANNON – St Joseph’s Hospital has long been known for providing what U.S. News and World Report identified with its five-star rating, as one of the best overall nursing home beds in West Virginia. Only about 10 percent of the Nursing Homes in West Virginia meet or exceed that level of distinction.

Recently St Joseph’s Hospital announced that it would be seeking to become licensed as a Critical Access Hospital. At the start of that process, it was recognized that it was able to convert some of the beds that were no longer used or staffed for inpatient care, and seek to convert 10 of those licensed beds into “distinct part” skilled nursing beds.

These 10 beds would be in addition to the 16 nursing home beds it currently has and will be located adjacent to, but in a distinctly separate area of the third floor of the hospital.

To clarify, hospital officials noted that the term “distinct part” refers to a portion of an institution (e.g., a nursing home or a hospital) that is certified to provide Skilled Nursing Facility (SNF) services, but that is physically separate from other beds in the hospital.

Setting out to identify a location seemed relatively simple, since the area housing the hospitals administrative wing at the time had originally been used to provide inpatient services. Staff, including Hospital Administration, have since been relocated, and the unit to service those 10 patients was renovated to once again support patient care requirements as well as providing the “distinct area” required for conversation to Skilled Nursing Beds.

Dr. Clyde Mitchell will provide the required medical leadership for both the Nursing Care Facility and the Distinct Part, Skilled Nursing Services, and Donna Lewis, RN, will serve as director of nursing. They report that they are looking forward to providing the specialized skilled and rehabilitative services to Medicare patients meeting the requirements for skilled nursing services.

Both noted that patients will “not settle here for the very long term” which has been associated with our current Nursing Care Facility. Rather these patients will require a higher level of nursing, rehabilitative or medical management needs, which will be treated in the short term, for transfer to the most appropriate level of long term care, should it be required.

In addition to 24-hour skilled nursing care, social services, physical therapy and rehabilitation services, and pharmacy and nutritional support will also be important components of Skilled Nursing Facility care team.

Hospital President and CEO Sue Johnson-Phillippe was quick to point out that this was not an overnight process and required “all hands on deck” in order to apply for and meet the numerous licensing and physical plant requirements required to obtain this Distinct Part, Medicare Certified licensure.

“The Skilled Nursing Facility will give patients in our community the opportunity to receive the best in rehabilitative and skilled nursing care in an environment that is closer to home,” said Johnson-Phillippe.

The Skilled Nursing Facility plans to begin accepting patients on Friday. For more information about St Joseph’s Skilled Nursing Unit, call 304-473-6800.