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Trusted local news leader for Prescott area communities since 1882
7:15 PM Sat, Sept. 22nd

Editorial: A step in the right direction

The VA's Community Living Center in Prescott ranks among the worst in the nation, according to data from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. (Google Maps photo)

The VA's Community Living Center in Prescott ranks among the worst in the nation, according to data from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. (Google Maps photo)

When the Northern Arizona Veteran Affairs Health Care System was notified by national officials in June that its nursing home facility in Prescott, the Community Living Center, ranked as the lowest VA of any in the country, the distinction was a black eye for the facility.

The ranking, at the time, led Medical Center Director Barbara Oemcke to promise improvement from the one-star rating of the 85-bed capacity nursing home on the main campus of the local VA. Rankings for such facilities are 1-5 with one being the lowest.

The rankings, in part, specified a need for improved pain management and attention to potential falls and some physical improvements to the center, including the attention to water temperatures in the bathrooms of patients. The center is a specialty unit that provides both long-term nursing care as well as skilled rehabilitation and hospice care.

But making a promise and keeping it are two different things. To her credit, Oemcke has delivered on that promise in the last two months. In that time, the VA has corrected deficiencies at the center, which currently has 65 patients, and earned a two-star rating in its latest review.

In a Courier story by staff writer Nanci Hutson, which was published Tuesday, Aug. 21, Oemcke said the VA “truly cares about veterans and is devoted to providing outstanding care to our nation’s heroes.”

We have no doubt as to the VA’s commitment to the men and women, who have served our country through the years.

The 162-acre campus in the 500 block of Highway 89 N, at which the center is located in Building 148, is in the midst of a two-year construction period to enhance and upgrade the aging facility. The $30 million project features new construction, remodeling and renovation of the center in order to enhance services for in-patient and out-patient veterans.

When the ongoing improvements are complete, Oemcke said she is hopeful that federal VA leaders will be open to upgrading and enhancing the long-term scare space.

The VA is also seeking to bring new administrative leadership on-board and fill vacancies that have prompted clinical staffing shortages.

“Our goal is to continue to enforce our mission and core values while providing the best quality health care for veterans,” Oemcke said.

Oemcke’s mantra has been one of patience and perseverance. We believe she is taking the necessary steps to improve the center, and also urge patience and perseverance from the community during the process.