04/27/10 — Work on O'Berry changes ongoing

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Work on O'Berry changes ongoing

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on April 27, 2010 1:46 PM

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Andra Brown, a registered nurse at the specialized nursing facility at the O'Berry Neuro-Medical Treatment Center, demonstrates the new Omicell machine, which dispenses medicine at the remodeled Cluster II building. The specialized care facility also features a nurses' station and is the first state facility to feature CareTracker, a state-of-the-art data collection system.

O'Berry Neuro-Medical Treatment Center is continuing its conversion from an intermediate care facility for the mentally retarded to providing long-term care for the aging.

As the center's population continues to grow older -- the average age of its residents is 50 -- many also have challenging medical needs, says Deborah Exum, who took over as director in November.

And for the foreseeable future, she says she will be running a dual model of services -- intermediate care for the mentally retarded as well as the more specialized nursing care.

Since the former O'Berry Center was renamed in August 2007, it has embraced a new mission as a neuro-medical treatment model.

One of the first orders of business was merging services into one location, starting with the Cluster II building. The project, expected to take one year, stretched to two.

A vacant building on campus provided ease of relocation, Mrs. Exum said. But there was still much work to be done.

The building layout might have remained the same -- individualized kitchens, bedrooms and activity areas -- but modifications had to be made to be more future-ready.

A pump station for the sprinkler system had to be installed, while a backup generator and call bell system were required. New flooring, automatic doors, Wifi and mandated electrical systems were installed. Also added were a medication delivery system called Omicell and state-of-the-art data collection system called CareTracker.

O'Berry is the first state facility to have the CareTracker system, officials said.

Mrs. Exum credited her staff with pulling together to make the conversion a success.

"This team of people, they starting working on this and they developed a plan from the initial startup of the building to completion," she said. "It involved the policies and procedures, the program and medical services, down to how many staff, down to the actual moving of the individuals into the building."

When the state was called in to do a survey of the group home in March, they identified no deficiencies, the director said, clearing the way for occupancy.

Cluster II is certified to handle 48 residents, with 46 initially moved into the building, Mrs. Exum said.

While O'Berry has always been a 24/7 facility, the Cluster II model means the nurses are centrally located in the same building for all shifts.

Renovation on Cluster IV began recently and is expected to be completed by February 2011. The conversion process will continue until the campus is entirely a specialized nursing facility, the director said.

"Now what we're doing to be developing this program will best meet their needs for the future, not only for the individuals that live here but these other individuals in the other 65 counties that we serve that may need specialized nursing services," Mrs. Exum said. "This is a very exciting challenge. ...

"The staff accepted the challenge to be the pioneers for this specialized nursing program. I like what I'm seeing and I know we're on the right course to meeting the needs of our mission."