Editor’s note: Dr. William Miller, chief of staff at the Adventist Health Mendocino Coast Hospital, is writing weekly reports concerning the COVID-19 situation on the Mendocino Coast. We are pleased to be running his health column, with details on the medical fight against the pandemic. The views shared in this weekly column are those of the author, Dr. William Miller, and do not necessarily represent those of The Mendocino Voice or of Adventist Health.
Sherwood Oaks Nursing Home in Ft. Bragg has undergone a change in ownership and management that is expected to significantly bolster the facility. The new owners are Lucy Xie and her husband, Ron Baldwin. Both are licensed nursing home administrators and Xie will be serving as the administrator of the facility.
Lucy Xie became a physician in China in 1997, specializing in neurology, before immigrating to the US in 2005. When she arrived, she chose to become a registered nurse instead of repeating her neurology residency. She quickly worked her way up the ranks to become the Director of Nursing at St. Anthony Care Center, a 30 bed nursing home in Hayward. In 2015, when the owner of St. Anthony retired, Xie and Baldwin, decided to purchase the facility. When they took it over, it was financially struggling, however, they soon turned it around. In 2018, they acquired its sister facility, SerenEthos Care Center, a 36 bed nursing home also in Hayward. Under their management, the two facilities have risen to 5-star and 4-star ratings, respectively.
“I really like the Coast. We are planning to move and make this our home,” Xie said. “We think that Sherwood Oaks is so important for this community and we want to make it successful.” There is little doubt that they will be able to accomplish this given that their other two facilities enjoy a tremendous reputation in the Bay Area. Such hospitals as Stanford and UCSF send their more complicated patients to St. Anthony and SerenEthos for rehabilitation. This earned both facilities certification as a Center of Excellence by the San Mateo Health Plan for their exemplary performance in quality and patient safety.
One of the challenges that Sherwood Oaks has faced is approximately $1.5 million in deferred maintenance. This has not daunted Baldwin, who practiced law as a healthcare attorney for 35 years before choosing to retire from his law practice and focus on nursing home care with his wife. “We are prepared to invest what is needed to get the facility back up to modern standards. We will take on each of the building’s problems one at a time until they are all fixed by the end of the first year,” Baldwin said. “We don’t intend to stop there, however. The place needs to be modernized. One of the first things we will do is replace all of the beds with newer, more comfortable electric beds, getting rid of the existing, old hand cranked ones. We will also install an electronic medical record system that includes bedside monitors for direct, point of care access to patient information. This is what we have done at both of our other facilities and it really makes a difference in patient care.” There are also plans to look at installing solar panels and doing an overall remodel to the appearance of the facility to make it more welcoming.
The biggest challenge that Sherwood Oaks has faced, however, is staffing. Xie has solid plans on how to address this as well. “Quality of care is always our priority and you need adequate staffing to provide this. The current staff have done an excellent job, but we need to attract more nurses and CNAs,” Xie said. To do this, they plan to offer more comparative wages and a relocation bonus. There will be an attractive benefits package that includes a 401k retirement plan with employer matching. “We also provide all of our staff with the most up to date training and make sure that they have the needed skills to take care of even the sicker patients. This gives the staff better job satisfaction and so our retention of staff is excellent,” she added.
When asked about their business model that allowed them to turn their other two facilities into financially profitable ones, Baldwin answered, “Many nursing homes try to make a profit by cutting costs. They put off repairs, avoid investing in modern technology and pay their staff as little as possible. We believe that this is the wrong approach. Instead, we do the opposite. We focus on investing in continuous quality improvement. As a result, our reputation of providing the best possible care gives us a steady line of referrals. So, we believe that the key to making a facility like ours profitable is through investing in quality of care.”
When asked what they would consider a successful turn around of Sherwood Oaks to look like, they did not hesitate to answer. “We want to bring Sherwood Oaks’ current 1-star rating up to full 5-stars. This means focusing on quality, safety and resident satisfaction,” Xie said.