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Avamere receives five-star rating from Medicare

Sequim Gazette - 3/3/2021

With treats including a taco truck, prizes, sweets and more, staff with Avamere Olympic Rehabilitation of Sequim enjoyed a bit of a celebration last week.

The skilled nursing facility at 1000 S. Fifth Ave. recently received a Five-Star Quality rating from the Centers for Medicare And Medicaid Services, putting it among some of the best care facilities in the nation.

"Only the top 15 percent of skilled nursing facilities receive a five-star rating," said Sandra Hurd, Avamere's regional director of operations. "It's difficult to achieve."

The rating system is based on results and data from health inspections, staffing and quality of resident care measures.

Administrators held a staff appreciation event on Feb. 26 where they were honored for the high ranking. It was also live-streamed for those unable to attend.

Hurd said Avamere — a facility offering post-acute care, surgery, rehabilitation, skilled nursing care and more — was ranked a one-star facility a few years ago, but rose up thanks to "a wonderful warm culture."

"You demonstrate integrity above all else and do what's right no matter what and who is watching," she told staffers.

Avamere's administrator Heather Jeffers said she left the facility for other ventures in 2015 when it was a four-star facility and came back in January 2018 when it was a one-star.

"Hard work pays off and people are seeing the difference," she said.

Jeffers staffers feel proud about the rating and "everyone feels ownership in it."

According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services' website, the Five-Star Quality Rating System helps people "compare nursing homes more easily and to help identify areas about which you may want to ask questions" based on ratings from one to five stars.

"Quality Measures" are based on 15 different physical and clinical measures for nursing home residents and how well nursing homes are caring for their residents' physical and clinical needs.

The "Staffing" rating is based on the number of hours of care provided on average daily to each resident by nursing staff. Differing levels of care per patient are factored in, the center's website states.

The "Health Inspection" rating is based on the three most recent inspections and investigations due to complaints where trained, objective inspectors use a process to determine the extent to which a nursing home has met Medicaid and Medicare's minimum quality requirements, the centers' website states.

Avamere currently employs about 115 full-time and part-time staff in Sequim for 75-80 residents, Hurd said.

With the five-star status, Jeffers said Avamere staff are going "to work hard to maintain it."

Hurd added that they've worked to create more private rooms to increase safety, "especially during the pandemic."

She also attributed the rating to the hard work of Jeffers and director of nursing Julie Martin for "breaking down barriers for whatever patients need."

"(The rating) takes having happy staff, strong consistent leadership and caring about quality first," Hurd said.

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