Photos & Story by Dave Warner

Saturday afternoon, the Alpine Rehabilitation & Nursing Center on East Monroe Street opened up their facility for tours and their third annual community carnival.

The facility is an 80-bed skilled nursing facility specializing in providing both short and long term care to seniors. According to Stephanie Benner, Administrator of the facility “we have a large rehab unit – people going home, that’s changed over the years. We take people from hospitals all over the area now.”

Nursing homes are expanding their services more and more because the government feels that hospitals are too expensive. So facilities like Alpine are taking on services like onsite physical, occupational & speech therapy, licensed social work services, hospice services, dental & podiatry services, I.V. antibiotic therapy, and more.

“Some things we’ve done for many years, and some things are newer to us,” stated Benner. “So we’re always looking for how we can expand our services.”

The facility has a 24/7, seven days a week nursing staff. According to Assistant Director Casey Bayes “The youngest patient here is 25 and the oldest is going to be 104 next week,” so it’s a diverse population. “The short term people tend to be here after a trauma, meaning it could be a medical issue that came up, it could be a stroke, a fracture, people that are going to go home after they rehab – we have a lot of that going on more and more,” stated Benner.

Many of the patients do have long term chronic diseases and they sometimes have a long list of problems. The facility does their best for those issues and tries to keep patients comfortable and make sure that they are as healthy as they can. They handle dementia, but typically, it’s more about chronic diseases. COPD, emphysema, congestive heart failure and lots of other issues.

Facilities like Alpine came about because of the persistent re-admissions to hospitals of patients. In many cases, people were just returning to the hospitals too early.  So the government mandated that those facilities start to measure 30 day re-admission rates. “Hospitals are being penalized for that financially and nursing homes will be also at some point, probably very soon,” stated Benner. “It’s really about managing people here instead of sending them home too early,” she said.

The RN’s at Alpine are very good at assessing the condition of our patients and Brenner stated “we can just do a lot of things here.”

“What we’re trying to get into are the folks who broke a hip, have had a knee replacement, and need rehab,” said Bayes. “We’re the step before they can go home safely.”

“What’s unique about us I think is the feel of the place when you walk in and the staff.” “We just had our state survey and we did very well, we had no nursing deficiencies,” Brenner said.

Bayes stated “In the fall, we won the national silver award through the American Healthcare Association, based on quality, efforts for quality and what the facility is doing about quality.” It’s kind of intense the steps you have to take,” to win the award said Brenner.

There were only seven winners in New York State for the silver, now, the Alpine Center is going to try for the gold. For those of us in Little Falls, that’s a good thing, as it appears we already have the La Quinta of health care right here with this facility.