Great River Care Center number one in Iowa

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Pictured are Great River Care Center Activity Director Debbie Johnson, resident Margie Garthwaite and CNA Faith Gurske. (Submitted photo)

By Audrey Posten, North Iowa Times Editor

The American Health Care Association has rated Great River Care Center (GRCC), in McGregor, the number one nursing home in Iowa for the first quarter of 2017.

“Every nursing home in the nation is rated based on their surveys, quality, staffing and health inspections,” said Great River Care Center Administrator Deanna Kahler. “We were rated number one out of 437 based on our survey history.”

Each year, Kahler said, the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals visits GRCC, spending a week inspecting everything at the facility.

“They review all aspects, from laundry to how we’re giving meds, and everything in between,” she explained.

For the last four years, these surveys have been deficiency-free, laying the groundwork for GRCC’s top rating.

“It’s pretty awesome,” Kahler said. “It’s hard to obtain because of the vast amount they look at.”

The honors don’t end there. GRCC has been a five-star overall rated facility for the past four years, as well. That rating is bestowed by the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

A five-star rating is hard to obtain, Kahler said, and even harder to keep, as more and more elements are added to the assessment.

These ratings, which range from one to five stars, are available online for GRCC and all other nursing homes.

“People can go online and compare,” Kahler said. “It’s a neat tool for families.”

Kahler attributes the majority of GRCC’s success to the staff, which currently totals 45 people.

“They’re the ones providing care,” she remarked.

GRCC’s staff turnover rate is just 20 percent, Kahler said, while the state average is over 40 percent.

“It helps when we have continual staff to provide care,” she said.

Licensed for 50 beds, GRCC usually averages between 35 and 38 residents, Kahler said. Putting a family member in a nursing home is a tough decision, she noted, but GRCC hopes to ease the transition and, if possible, help people return to their homes.

“Our short-term average stay is just 15 days,” Kahler said. “People have 80 percent better mobility when they return home. We’re here to get people up and going and back in their home again. We do a lot of that.”

GRCC, which opened in McGregor in 1974, offers a variety of activities for residents, including award-winning art and music therapy programs.

The facility was also recently remodeled, with updates to everything from flooring and curtains to wallpaper.

“We’re trying to bring GRCC out of the 1980s,” Kahler said, adding that an open house is planned for this summer. 

“We’ve been a stable facility in the area for a long time,” she continued. Since learning of the number-one rating, “it’s been awesome to see the staff members’ faces, celebrate that aspect and share with the community that we have a great facility if they should ever need it.”

Kahler said the rating comes out each quarter, and GRCC hopes to retain its status in the coming months.

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