Progress made at Pleasant Acres since sale, staff and ownership say

Lindsey O'Laughlin
York Dispatch
Pleasant Acres Nursing and Rehabilitation Center administrator Tamitha Hetrick looks at resident-created Halloween pumpkins on display with resident Paul Stambaugh, formerly of York Springs, at the center Thursday, October 24, 2019. The facility was privatized when Premier Healthcare Management purchased it from York County in October of 2018. Bill Kalina photo

Before the York County Board of Commissioners voted in 2018 to sell Pleasant Acres Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, Donetta Landis, 73, was wholly against the plan.

"I worried about where the old folks would go that don’t have any money," she said.

One year after Premier Healthcare Management took over operations at the nursing home, Landis, of East Manchester Township, said her 93-year-old mother is thriving thanks to the care of the nurses and the responsive action of the administrators when Landis goes to them with her concerns.

"I couldn’t buy them enough gifts for all the things they do for her," she said of the nurses on the third floor.

The nursing home's administrators and some of the nursing staff said Thursday, Oct. 24, that comments such as these are a more accurate portrayal of the facility than the negative reports they often see in media reports.

Jan Ricchio, chief operating officer for Premier, said the last thing the company wants to do is minimize any problems at the home.

But the problems they've been dealing with were present at Pleasant Acres long before the company took over operations in October 2018, she said.

"We welcome the scrutiny," Ricchio said. "We don’t welcome the suggestion that any of the issues we’re experiencing are new."

The state Department of Health recently cited the nursing home for neglecting to monitor the proper functioning of residents' pacemakers, which resulted in one patient having a seizure and being transported to the hospital to have the device replaced when it ultimately failed.

Pleasant Acres Nursing and Rehabilitation Center certified nursing assistant Angelina Hall walks along a corridor at the center Thursday, October 24, 2019. The facility was privatized when Premier Healthcare Management purchased it from York County in October of 2018. Bill Kalina photo

The health department classified that as a pattern resulting in "serious harm."

And, earlier this year, several family members of Pleasant Acres patients complained to York County commissioners about care at the facility. 

More:Families claim poor care, unsanitary conditions at Pleasant Acres

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Ricchio pointed out that the state issued a similar severe citation to Pleasant Acres in December 2016.

That citation was the result of an incident that occurred in November 2016, when a resident fell in the shower and broke her right hip after she was left unattended. In that survey, the health department classified the incident as having caused "actual harm."

And in July 2018, after the Board of Commissioners voted to sell the home but before Premier took over operations, a patient with osteoporosis suffered a knee fracture after being improperly lifted by staff members, according to the health department survey.

The survey also revealed that staff members weren't aware they were supposed to use a mechanical lift for that patient and were transferring her manually instead.

The health department classified that incident as having caused "actual harm" as well.

"We're working very hard, as we have been for a year, to move the facility forward," Ricchio said.

Pleasant Acres Nursing and Rehabilitation Center recreation therapist Britney Sager serves lunch to resident Curvin Ridley, formerly of Glen Rock, at the center Thursday, October 24, 2019. The facility was privatized when Premier Healthcare Management purchased it from York County in October of 2018. Bill Kalina photo

Technological updates: Premier has already started a $15 million renovation at the facility to update residents' rooms and refresh the interior decor with new lighting, wallpaper and flooring.

The facility also has a new electronic system for self check-in and check-out. Visitors are asked to enter their name and cell phone number at a touchscreen kiosk when they arrive. When they leave, the system sends a text message to their phone with a link to a survey and a form to report concerns and provide feedback to staff.

The facility also has Wi-Fi for the first time.

Dave Hafler, a nurse and floor supervisor, has worked at Pleasant Acres for more than 20 years.

There have been challenges adapting to all of the changes since the privatization, he said, but there has also been significant progress.

When the county owned the home, there wasn't much movement toward adopting new technologies, Hafler said.

"We really didn't seem to be moving into the 21st century," he said.

Now, Hafler, who also has a family member who is a resident at Pleasant Acres, said he feels like the home has direction and a vision for the future.

"Premier is interested in running the facility the best they can," he said. "The county was interested in getting through their surveys."

More:After complaints, state finds 'pattern' of errors at Pleasant Acres

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