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Lunch with Mimi: Centre Crest administrator Andrew Naugle on elder care and the modern facility planned in College Township

on April 30, 2018 3:29 PM

Centre Crest’s nursing home administrator, Andrew Naugle, began his career in elder care at age 15, working in the dietary department of his local nursing home in Bedford, Pennsylvania. His passion for elder care came from a special bond and promise he made to a resident named Maddie during his time at the nursing home in Bedford. He later founded a nonprofit organization, Maddie’s Promise, which grants one last wish to the elderly.

Taking over at Centre Crest in February 2017, he oversees the day-to-day operations to offer the best care to elderly members of the community. He values the time he spends on the floor with the residents and refers to them as living history books, citing the numerous stories he has heard them tell throughout his career.

Graduating in 2013 with a bachelor’s degree in business management and minors in marketing and finance from Clarion University, Naugle’s prior position as nursing home administrator was at Saxony Health Center in Saxonburg, working for Complete Healthcare Resources.

Town&Gown founder Mimi Barash Coppersmith sat down with Naugle at Liberty Craft House to discuss his career in nursing home administration and what the plans are for the new Centre Crest facility opening in 2020.

Mimi: You are a young man who has spent your whole career so far in nursing homes. What attracted you?

Andrew: When I was 15 years old, my mom ran a babysitting company at our home, and one of the ladies that brought her child to my mom worked at a nursing home. My mom told me I needed to get a job to be able to pay for gas and things like that. So, the lady got me a job in the kitchen of the nursing home in my local town of Bedford for about seven years through high school and college, and I actually became fond of one of the residents there. Her name was Maddie. Maddie and I became very close. She used to have an electric wheelchair, and we set up obstacle courses down the middle of the driveway and would do other fun things. She used to run into the copy machine and the copier guy would have to come and fix it. I kind of fell in love with her and she told me a lot of history stories. I went away to college, and I broke a promise to Maddie. I promised her I would always come back and say goodbye to her. Unfortunately, at the time, I thought it would be more fun to hang out with my buddies. One of the nurses called me one evening and told me Maddie wasn’t doing well. And I thought, it’s just Maddie, she gets sick, she gets better, and she’ll be fine. I hung out with my buddies and actually had to say goodbye to Maddie on the phone instead of going back and seeing her. From that point forward, I made a promise to myself that I wanted to work in nursing homes to make them better and to keep the promise to Maddie that people would get good care.

Mimi: And you work in nursing homes for the fun of making people happy?

Andrew: Yes, I like to make people smile. I am a believer that if you can make one resident smile, you’ve changed one person’s life and you’ve done your job for the day. People always say, “How can you work at such a depressing place?” I don’t find nursing homes depressing. I find nursing homes to be a place where there’s a lot of life.

Mimi: What attracted you to this particular position?

Andrew: I have been working with the same company for about five years now, and I was looking to move closer to home. The CHO asked me if I wanted to move here, and I said I would be more than happy to. I’m originally from Bedford, Pennsylvania. I have lots of nieces and nephews. I’ve missed out on their lives the last couple of years and I wanted to get closer to them.

Mimi: Are you happy you moved to State College?

Andrew: I am very happy I moved here. It’s a very interesting town, lots of things going on here.

Mimi: Can you bring us up to date with the snapshot of the new facility?

Andrew: We will be moving our building down behind the old Starlite (drive-in) movie theater, off the Benner Pike. It will be a 240-bed facility.

Mimi: Are you over (capacity)?

Andrew: We average around 226 right now. So, we still have some space to grow. But we are hoping with the move to a new building and the elderly population getting larger, we are going to see that growth.

Mimi: How will the new facility be different?

Andrew: It’s going to be a lot more modern and efficient. Parts of the buildings we’re in currently were built back in the 1950s. The layout is not the best. We will be able to have more private rooms. We are increasing our secure dementia unit. We have a waiting list for the dementia unit at the current time. We will be upping that unit to 31 beds, which should really help. We are adding a high-acuity unit as well. So, people that are stuck in a hospital and really have nowhere to go, we will be working with local hospitals to get them to a nice, safe home, and have somewhere they can call their home. Our goal is to be the home of the county. We really want to be a place where everyone can come and be taken care of and get good quality care while they are there. One other great new feature that the building will be adding is a multipurpose room that holds up to 240 people, so it will be really nice for the residents. Right now we don’t have a multipurpose room that holds that many.

Mimi: Do you have any programming?

Andrew: We have programming now, but no big rooms to do it in. So, we only do small-group things. We have a group called Re-creation that comes in yearly. We have to do three shows in the daytime for them, for all the residents to see. With this new program we will be able to have more people go at one time. Another nice addition is we are going to be adding a chapel into the building as well. Currently, Centre Crest does have a chapel, but it’s very tiny. The new chapel will actually be able to hold 90 people. So if you are in there and you want to see your granddaughter get married after she gets married out in the community, she can come down and they can do a small ceremony there. Another nice addition as well would be the meditation room. That’s where families can go when someone is close to passing and meditate quietly, or after someone has passed, they have a quiet place to go that is dedicated for that.

Mimi: Is any part of the goal improved care?

Andrew: Yes. Obviously, we want to look at our staffing levels and operational side. We will be working toward having a better care system. Looking at different training we can do for our CNAs – certified nurse assistants – and our licensed practical nurses as well, getting them all the education and experience they can through us and getting them out on the floor.

Mimi: You are pretty young (28) to be in charge of this whole place. How did you get there so quickly?

Andrew: I worked very hard. People ask me that all the time. I would say that the reason I am where I’m at is because I am dedicated to what I do. I work a lot of long days. All my employees have my cell phone number, so they are calling me constantly. I don’t take a day off usually. I take one week off in the summer, but I am still available by phone when I go with my family to the beach.

Mimi: What kind of medical staff does it take to run a place like this?

Andrew: We do have physicians, nurse practitioners, and PAs on site. We have a local dentist who comes out from CPI. A podiatrist comes in. Most of the care you receive in the community, the doctors come to our facility. And then for the day-to-day operations, we have RNs who would be the supervisors and other head nurses would take over watching the LPNs who do medication passes. And then the LPNs who help you shower as well as the activities of daily living.

Mimi: Everyone thinks that Centre Crest is the county home. Now it’s Centre Care?

Andrew: A board is managing it. It’s called Centre Care. It’s a not-for-profit board. They helped select a managing company, called Complete Healthcare Resources; it’s who I work for. They help manage day-to-day operations and the board meets monthly to go over the operations and make sure things are going well. The big difference between Centre Crest and a lot of nursing homes in Pennsylvania is that we are not-for-profit. We are not out to make money. I think people see Centre Crest as a county home. It’s a home for the county now. It’s a place where if you are out of funds, you have somewhere to go.

Mimi: Is the board of directors elected to those positions?

Andrew: Yes. The original board of directors was elected by county commissioners. And now that board actually votes upon itself.

Mimi: How many members?

Andrew: There are nine members and it could be a board of ten.

Mimi: Your medical staff is paid by you?

Andrew: The medical director, who would be the head of medical staff that comes in, would be paid partly by us, but they also bill the insurances for residents and Medicaid. All the doctors that come in actually bill Medicaid and insurance companies.

Mimi: And if you are in Centre Care, do you have to pay a monthly fee or what?

Andrew: It’s a daily rate. But there are options out there. If you’re a person who doesn’t have funds, we help you apply for Medicaid. You would work with our billing office to take care of that. That’s pretty much a case-by-case thing. We take insurances for Medicare, for HMOs, such as Highmark, Aetna, and UPMC. When you come in, what we would do is you sit down with our billing specialist.

Mimi: What’s the typical residency cost?

Andrew: The typical residency cost is $265 a day for a private-pay resident.

Mimi: Where’s that in the spectrum of things?

Andrew: We’re down toward the lower end of the cost for nursing homes in the area.

Mimi: What if somebody really can’t afford?

Andrew: If you really can’t afford, you go into the hospital and we get a referral from the hospital. They say you have no money, no family, nobody helped set anything up. We will actually help you get set up for Medicaid, and Medicaid will cover your bill. They’ll ask for things like bank statements if you own a house and things like that. We work with you to get that bill covered and work deliberately to help make sure that you get the care that you need. And the frontline staff doesn’t know if you pay Medicaid or insurance. You get the same care no matter what. 

Mimi: The current facility and past record has some red marks. How are you working on that?

Andrew: We are in the business of taking care of people and we are still human, so I would start by saying that. I would say most importantly, I have an open-door policy. I mentioned earlier that my employees have my cell phone number, but so do all of my residents’ families. I can take phone calls in the middle of the night. I answer them and I help out as I can. There are obviously always concerns that come up in nursing homes; we work with you to resolve that issue.

Mimi: What kind of programs do you have?

Andrew: We have a therapeutic recreation department that plans all kinds of different activities. We have music every Saturday that is paid by the auxiliary. You can go get your hair done. That’s a completely free service, so that’s a unique aspect of Centre Crest. We do things such as bingo, card games, cognitive ability games, and pet therapy. We have birds, a cat in the building, and we have a couple of employees who bring their dogs in that are trained recreational pets. Family members bring their dogs in if they have approval. We take residents out to events. We’ve made Wal-Mart trips, gone to Spikes games. Our goal is to make our residents’ lives as happy as possible. We want to make people smile and feel good.

Mimi: What new stuff will you have in the new facility?

Andrew: We will be recruiting more staff. We really want to get out in the community as well. We are working on getting a large blow-up movie theater. Our goal in the summer months is to be able to play a movie every Thursday. Invite the community to come out and be with our residents.

Mimi: When is this new facility going to be completed?

Andrew: Hopefully at the end of the summer of 2020. In the middle of the summer (this year), we hope to break ground over at the new site and have a big presentation on that.

Mimi: With the new building, will there be any increase in charges to patients?

Andrew: No. We do have a cost-of-living increase, a market increase.

Mimi: Do all of your employees have the same positive spirit and enthusiasm that you do?

Andrew: I would like to say yes. We all have bad days. One of the big things that I push is a customer service program. My employees are my customers, and the residents are my employees’ customers. If my employees are unhappy, I am not doing my job. We work very hard to do fun things for employees. We took a bus trip to New York in the fall. We do different things with the auxiliary, different fun events for the staff.

Mimi: What do you do to make the residents happy?

Andrew: One of my favorite things is at Valentine’s Day, I like to hand out roses to all the ladies. I am a good listener. I never really close my office door unless there’s somebody in there. A lot of people just want to talk to somebody. They want someone who’s going to truly, genuinely listen. The elderly population is a wealth of knowledge that my generation has yet to tap. Part of that scares me because we can learn a lot from the generations before us, from their mistakes, or about their rewards and successes. And if we would take that and use that, we would be in a better place some days than where we are in the world.

Mimi: That’s probably true. This problem will only get bigger because medical science has done such a good job of helping us live longer. I sit here thinking, 240 beds isn’t a lot of beds for an area that’s growing by leaps and bounds.

Andrew: In moving this building, we brought a parcel that’s 30 acres. One of the things the board is doing is making a master plan that would involve things such as a personal care home and independent living that will really help meet those needs. That’s not to say it’s going to happen in the next two to five years. I would say 10 to 15 years. What we are seeing in the industry is that hospitals are becoming short-stay surgery places, nursing homes are becoming more long-term high-acuity cases, and personal care homes are what we’re calling now as what used to be a nursing home back in the 1980s, for someone who can still walk and just needs someone there to help them with the day-to-day things.

Mimi: How many employees do you have?

Andrew: We have around 286 employees at the current time. CPI is a big help to us. We have a really good working relationship with them. They have a good LPN program. Their LPNs do clinical in the building. Penn State actually has RN students that do clinical in our building.

Mimi: Well, I’m proud of you for upgrading the options.

Andrew: Thank you.

Mimi: It’s my pleasure.


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