Health Care District’s Skilled Nursing Home Praised by Families for Communications Efforts
Despite mandated COVID-19 prevention measures that restricted visitation, the Edward J. Healey Rehabilitation and Nursing Center has kept the lines of communication open over the past six months for its 111 residents and their families. Gary Teitelbaum appreciates the ongoing information he receives about his 56-year old brother Eric, who has lived at the skilled nursing center in Riviera Beach for the past five years.
“Every single time there is progress or something happens with my brother, who is confined to a wheelchair, they call me about it,” said Teitelbaum. “I’ve been overwhelmed with joy by the emails and calls that I’ve received. I think the care there is exceptional.”
The 120-bed facility, which is owned and operated by the Health Care District of Palm Beach County, sends families weekly emails with updates on their loved ones in English, Spanish and Creole and then follows up to ensure the email or letter was received. The skilled nursing home’s staff also provides iPads to residents so they can see and speak privately with their family and friends via FaceTime and Skype several times a week.
“The most important thing is to ensure that the residents’ psychological, emotional and medical needs are met,” said Shelly Ann Lau, Executive Director of the Healey Center. “We understand it’s difficult not to socialize closely with others as we maintain social distancing requirements, so we try to accommodate safe interaction with others.”
The Healey Center’s activities, admissions and social services staff replaced bingo games, shopping trips and communal dining with other options. They coordinate with families who deliver their loved ones’ favorite foods and then decorate the residents’ rooms and wheelchairs to celebrate special occasions like birthdays. Staff shops online for items that residents request. Growing vegetables also engages residents in the outdoor patio garden. Unlike most nursing homes that serve senior adults, the average age of Healey Center residents is 61. Their activities are based on their ability levels and interests.
“The Healey Center is a unique, safety net facility that serves some of Palm Beach County’s most vulnerable residents, many of whom are recovering from traumatic injuries, debilitating illnesses or strokes,” said Darcy J. Davis, the Health Care District’s Chief Executive Officer. “We’ve made it a priority to reduce social isolation while maintaining required safety and infection control measures.”
The Healey Center, which is among the 19% of U.S. skilled nursing facilities recognized as a Best Nursing Home for 2019-20 by U.S. News & World Report, is now preparing to safely resume visitation as directed by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.
“Our focus is to help our residents reach and maintain their highest optimum level of functional and social ability,” said Karen A. Harris, the Health Care District’s Vice President of Field Operations. “For many residents, the Healey Center is their long-term home. Resuming safe visitation will bring them, their families and staff much joy.”