Hughes Health Serves As a Role Model for Federal Agency

Hughes Health & Rehabilitation was honored to be just one of 10 top performing skilled nursing facilities in the United States to be visited recently by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), a federal agency within the United States Department of Health and Human Services, to learn about Hughes’s best practices.

Hughes, whose many accolades include the coveted Gold National Quality Award in 2016 from the American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living, opened its doors for a three-day visit by CMS team members Kelly O’Neill, Kaylie Doyle and Christine LaRocca. The purpose of their visit was to learn about what Hughes is doing to prevent “all cause” harm, which is harm and injury to residents from any cause. The goal of their work was to learn, share and then replicate what Hughes has accomplished with other nursing homes so that they too can become high performing organizations.

From February 20-22, the CMS team interviewed all levels of staff to learn about Hughes’s strategies regarding leadership, teamwork and communication, reliable implementation of best practices and continuous learning and improvement.

Also of interest was Hughes’s systems and processes in support of care practices that prevent harms and injuries, including pressure ulcers, malnutrition, exacerbations of preexisting conditions, dehydration, infections, accidents, falls and fractures, physical, emotional or psychological trauma and more.

From the director of food service to the director of staff development, from the administrator to the activities coordinator, from the director of social services to the director of dietary services, CMS spent time with them and others to learn about the daily workings that make Hughes … Hughes.

CMS presented their findings to senior staff on the last day of their visit. One by one, CMS’s Kelly, Kaylie and Christine laid out what they found were significant findings that make Hughes one of the best performing facilities in America. For every single Hughes staff member listening to the CMS report, it was a wonderful validation of everything that do that makes Hughes great!

The first area CMS reported on was Hughes’s passionate and caring leadership. Their findings showed a commitment to excellence matched with a value of staff at all levels. These and other factors resulted in an environment that produces and nurtures many long-term employees.

Teamwork and communication was another area highlighted. The startling fact that 27 languages are spoken by Hughes employees, with some of them learning English for the first time by their co-workers, added a unique and valuable mentorship within the Hughes organization. Teamwork was also credited with improving quality and safety at Hughes, as well as producing a culture where everyone goes the extra mile to help each other and, equally important, the residents of Hughes.

Reliable implementation of best practices was another part of Hughes’s success, according to CMS findings. Working under a philosophy that the fewer medications the better, Hughes’s psychiatrist and nurse practitioners work closely together to focus on psychotropic medication selections. In addition, Hughes is keenly focused on preventing adverse events related to resident care, including falls, dehydration and infections.

Continuous learning and improvement was the final area of CMS findings. Acknowledging the significance of Hughes’s full time staff development leader, CMS highlighted the facility’s focus on staff orientation and ongoing education. As leaders look for training opportunities for themselves and staff, the Hughes team, CMS found, were eager to participate in research projects with Yale, UMass an the Connecticut Department of Health, to name but a few.

The evaluation of organizational performance was also highlighted, along with Hughes’s commitment to establish and measure goals in their endeavor to “want to be better than the nation, state and their current performance.”

Overall, the visit by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services was a very rewarding experience for both CMS and Hughes. Said CMS’s Christine LaRocca in her closing remarks: “There are lots of smiles here. I’ll miss seeing all your smiles” And, Hughes senior staff members expressed their gratitude to CMS for recognizing the family aspects of the organizations that is central to everything they do. “We are a family of co-workers who make this place a family for our residents and, in turn, for their own families, as well,” said Amy Peruti, director of nursing.

“When a family member says to me that this is the best nursing facility they’ve ever experienced, I wear that as a badge of pride,” said Nursing Supervisor Cherry Ho.

“The quality in this building is just like oxygen,” said Hughes Administrator Lina Dureza. “We need it to breathe. We need it to live. We need it to take care of our residents. I’m very proud of our entire staff here at Hughes.”

Hughes’s senior staff and guests from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services pose on the Hughes stairwell at the end of their three-day meeting in February.
Those involved in meeting include from left, front row, CMS’s Christine LaRocca and Hughes’s Chery Ho and Lina Dureza; middle row from left, Hughes’s Amy Peruti and Iride Beiletti and CMS’s Kaylie Doyle and Kelly O’Neil.

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