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Lakeview in Fairmont earns ‘Safe Care’ honor

FAIRMONT — Lakeview Methodist Health Care Center in Fairmont was recently honored as one of 51 nursing facilities in Minnesota that have completed a five-step action plan called “Safe Care for Seniors.” The program is sponsored by LeadingAge Minnesota.

Lakeview administrator Deb Barnes said Safe Care was initiated last year after some unfortunate press involving other assisted-living facilities in Minnesota.

“The rest of us at Leading Age Minnesota wanted to say, ‘Boy, those are such unfortunate articles and we’re so sorry that those things happened, but that is not the bulk of senior care in the state. The bulk of senior care in the state is wonderful, loving and attentive care,’ and that’s what we wanted to get across,” she said.

Barnes was quick to note that just because a facility has not enrolled in Safe Care for Seniors does not mean it is not giving safe and wonderful care.

“Those of us that were quite vocal and enrolled in it wanted to make sure and enforce on a grander scale to everyone in the state that we are doing this and we’re willing to show all the steps that we’re taking,” she said.

A five-step action plan was created. It includes leadership accountability, the appointment of Safety Champions, addressing improvement opportunities, enhanced transparency and communication.

Speaking of leadership accountability, Barnes said, “We want to make sure that everyone here knows that safety for our seniors is most important. We want everyone to know that if you see something, say something. If you see something done in error or differently than our policy states, bring it up. You won’t be reprimanded in any way.”

While the program is something for all employees, there is a committee of volunteers who wanted to step up to become “Safety Champions.” They encourage their co-workers to voice their ideas or concerns.

The steps are listed on the website, leadingagemn.org. Barnes said she likes that they can look on the site and find suggestions from other care facilities that are also part of Safe Care.

“Even though I like to think we’re doing the absolute best, if there’s something out there with ideas from other people or experts, I think we should take a look at it to see if there’s something else we can be doing to help us,” she said.

Barnes also is glad Lakeview is part of the program given the coronavirus pandemic. Lakeview is able to see what steps other care facilities are implementing, and what they are doing that does or does not work.

“These steps certainly extend into everything we’re doing for coronavirus,” she said.

In summing up the program, Barnes said it was created out of the desire to make sure nothing so negative happens to anyone in a care facility again and that facilities need all team members to work together to achieve that goal.

“Being part of this program has enhanced our staff in their willingness to come forward and suggest ideas for improvement,” she said.

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