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August 21, 2014, 2:00 pm

State recognizes nursing homes for care, service

The Pennsylvania Department of Health, in granting its first ever “Award for Excellence in Health Care Compliance” to five top-shelf nursing homes throughout the state, has made it that much easier for folks to choose the best home to enjoy the autumn of their lives.

“We feel it’s important to inform the public of those facilities that go above and beyond the rest,” said Department of Health Secretary Dr. Eli N. Avila. “We hope to inspire other nursing homes to strive to earn this award in future years.”

The Foulkeways at Gwynedd (Montgomery County), The Meadows at Shannondell in the Valley Forge Retirement Community (Montgomery County) and the Schuylkill Center (Pottsville) were the regional winners of the award; only one Philadelphia nursing home — the Pennsylvania Hospital Skilled Care Center at 8th and Spruce Street — made the cut.

To receive this award, Pennsylvania-based nursing homes must meet and surpass certain criteria, said Susan Williamson, director of the Division of Nursing Care Facilities.

“The main criteria were these facilities were deficiency-free for the last three years,” Williamson said. “We do full-house surveys, and they had no substantiated complaints in the three-year cycle, meaning we either couldn’t find or verify any complaints.

“There were also no other substantial issues reported to the deputy of quality assurances, and no other kinds of red flags.”

The award coincides with the ongoing celebration of National Nursing Home Week, which runs through Saturday. The American Health Care Association, the creators of “Celebrating the Journey” — the theme of NNHW 2012 — has planned a series of events commending the works done by caretakers and their organizations.

Many critics hail the skilled care center as one of the best in the nation. A recent U.S. News & World Report recently awarded the center a prestigious Five-Star rating, giving it top honors in several categories, including health inspections, nurse staffing and quality measures. UCompareHeathCare also granted the Downtown nursing home a Five-Star rating, which also offers healthcare for those who no longer need acute hospital attention but aren’t quite ready to return to independent living.

“Pennsylvania Hospital Skilled Care Center has an above average registered nurse per resident per day of 221 minutes compared to the Pennsylvania state nursing home average of 132 minutes,” UCompareHealthCare stated through a breakdown of its findings. “They had zero deficiencies in its past two state inspections, compared to the PA average of 11. Pennsylvania Hospital Skilled Care Center had zero fire safety deficiencies in the past two state inspections, which is better than the Pennsylvania state nursing home average of 9.”

There are 713 certified nursing homes throughout the state, and the department’s nursing care facilities conducts more than 5,000 yearly inspections on them. A member of the Department of Health will visit each site for a ceremony in which the nursing home will receive a plaque for display, among other items.

“This is a great opportunity to show appreciation to the nursing homes and staff who consistently hold themselves to the highest standards,” Avila said. “We applaud them for helping us in our mission to deliver quality health care to Pennsylvanians.”


Contact staff writer Damon C. Williams at (215) 893-5745 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .