Albany County Nursing Home residents and staff have been experiencing a bit more ease when it comes to mobility with the help of new equipment.
Albany Executive Dan McCoy, joined by county legislators and nursing home staff, held a demonstration on new machines that will help move patients to and from beds Thursday, Aug. 6, at the nursing home. The equipment came as part of the Zero Injury Program (ZIP), an effort to improve the safety of both residents and nursing home staff.
Three machines were demonstrated, designed to help nurses transport residents with mobility issues out of bed, off chairs and to and from the bathroom more easily without risk of injury, whether it be a resident or nurse falling when trying to lift the resident from bed.
“It’s exciting, because when you improve the quality of life, not just for the residents, but for the workers, it’s always a win-win situation,” said McCoy.
The 30 pieces of equipment and upgrades to bathing and bathroom facilities came at a cost of $300,000 to the county, but McCoy said that cost will quickly be made up after injuries are reduced.
Machines included the Maxi Move, a cradle-like sling designed to lift immobile patients from bed without strain to nurses. The Sara Stedy assists residents who can support themselves have more stability when bathing or using the restroom.
Nursing home staff began using the equipment about two months ago. Staff said they are already seeing not only less risk on the job, but also less time helping residents move.
“It saves a lot of time and it’s fairly easy to use,” said nursing assistant Rushel Skeine. She said it has been taking about three to five minutes less to transport a patient to and from the bed. The equipment also means less staff per patient will be needed.
“The first reaction is, they’re kind of nervous, because they don’t know what’s going on,” said Skeine of the residents. But after seeing how easy the move is, patients have grown to like the new machines.
Jake Viveiros, a representative of ArjoHuntleigh, maker of the equipment, and occupational therapist for 17 years, has been training and will continue to train facility staff on the machines.
“Once a month, I’m coming back here to work on clinical proficiency,” said Viveiros.
Albany County Legislator Mary Lou Connolly, D-Guilderland, said she experienced first-hand how difficult it was for nurses to get patients who cannot support themselves out of bed. Last year, her husband spent more than three months in the Albany County Nursing Home after he broke his femur and couldn’t walk.
While she thanked the nursing home physical therapists for their help, Connolly said this equipment would make days easier for everyone. She said it took two nurses each time her husband, 81 years old and weighing about 200 pounds, wanted to get out of bed. He was immobile for four to six weeks.
“He could not get out of bed on his own. It would take two people the longest time to get him in and out of bed. This is a dream for me because I lived it…. I saw firsthand what happened with my husband. This is very, very important,” said Connolly.
The Albany County Nursing Home has been facing financial difficulty within the last few years. In the past, the nursing home was budgeting a $12 million deficit, but that number was halved this year to $6.3 million.
McCoy’s plan to privatize the nursing home, which he has said would have saved taxpayers millions, did not pass through the legislature. Instead, a deal was struck to form a local development corporation to take over the facility. The county also hired Larry Slatky as the home’s new executive director.
On Thursday, McCoy said the county is working to restore the nursing home to its former state. In this year’s State of the County address, he announced the county is bonding about $2.46 million in capital project funds for the facility.
Projects included not only the new mobility equipment, but also solar panels, fixing hallways and the roof, renovating common areas and replacing room furnishings. A $1.5 million project will modernize residential rooms and living areas.
County officials are also working with Albany Medical Center to get on-site medical care.
“We’re turning this nursing home back to what it was when I was a kid,” said McCoy. “A place people fought to get into, a place where people want their loved ones.”