“I really don’t look at us as a nursing home anymore.”
Those are the words of Huntsville Manor senior administrator Carla Buttram, in describing the new approach to care that is offered by the facility.
That might come as a surprise to anyone not intricately familiar with Huntsville Manor. The facility has been one of two long-term care homes in Scott County for many years, and perceptions are slow to change.
The new reality, though, is a facility that is focused both on long-term care and short-term care, with the latter being everything from rehab to wound therapy, to even IV administration.
“In a sense, you could almost look at us as a mini-hospital,” Buttram said. “Other than ventilator patients, we can do everything else there is to do.”
By “everything else,” Buttram literally means what she says. Huntsville Manor has a fully-equipped physical therapy wing, a podiatrist on staff, a dietician, a pharmacist, and an agreement with Associates in Eyecare to provide optometry services. All nursing components are on-hand, including a psych nurse, 24-hour RN coverage, and a nurse practitioner who is available around the clock.
In short, a lot of services are tucked into the 96-bed, 35,000 sq. ft. facility.
“We have a lot going on,” Buttram said.
While Huntsville Manor offers both in-patient and out-patient treatment, its primary focus is on in-patient care.
“You have a lot of out-patient facilities in our county, so that’s not our focus,” Buttram said.
The facility works with area hospitals and local physicians, is in-network with virtually every insurance provider, and even has a new provider agreement with University of Tennessee Medical Center. In fact, Huntsville Manor was No. 2 out of 35 networking partners chosen by UTMC.
“That will allow us to help them with some of the patients they’re getting into their facilities to get back home to the community,” Buttram said.
Huntsville Manor’s makeover started a couple of years ago, when one wing of the facility was renovated and standard rooms were turned into private suites. That change was made to accommodate short-term residents who are receiving things like therapy and wound care. Most of those residents have an average stay of 14 days to 60 days. While they’re there, they can expect the comforts of home.
The newly-redesigned rooms include new beds, wardrobes, nightstands, flat-screen TVs, and WiFi access. There is sitting room for family members who visit, and even futons for overnight guests. Dining is buffet-style in the facility’s cafeteria, with a selection of foods to choose from.
“Times have changed,” Buttram said. “People come in and they have their own tablets, or they may have work that they need to do. We’re making things more accessible for the baby-boomers now.”
Some of the rooms now have private showers, and Huntsville Manor’s next project will be a spa-type shower room for each hall in the facility. Buttram has pictures of how she wants each shower room to look, and they look like a something straight out of a five-star hotel.
“If I’m going to be here one of these years, I’d want it to look how I’d like it,” Buttram said.
Even the flooring is new. Huntsville Manor partnered with Steve Lambert to purchase flooring that he found in Belgium. The new look has already been installed in over half of the facility, and that project will be completed by early next year.
So who are the patients who utilize Huntsville Manor? Many of them are stroke survivors who need rehab. They find all components of care at the facility, including physical therapy, speech therapy and occupational therapy. Others include patients who have had knee or hip replacements, or victims of motor vehicle accidents. Wound care is a big component of therapy that is offered at Huntsville Manor. As an example, Buttram cites instances where a diabetic patient has had an amputation, or someone with an infection who needs antibiotic treatment. And, during flu season, Huntsville Manor can offer antibiotic treatment via IV.
“We’re not just for the elderly,” Buttram said. “We offer in-patient care for ages 18 and up.”
Who meets the criteria?
“If they’ve had surgery and they have difficulty walking, they’ll meet the criteria,” Buttram said. And with most insurance plans, patients do not have to be hospitalized before being eligible. Doctor’s offices can make referrals.
“We’re a stabilized area to meet the health care needs for our people in our community,” Buttram said. “Really, we’re here to assist the hospitals, too. Hospitals are transitioning more people out now because insurances don’t want people to remain in the hospital for long periods of time. So we’re getting more acute-care patients. That’s why it’s important for us to have a nurse practitioner on-board and to have RN staffing. We have to be on top of those patients’ needs.”
Buttram is proud of the care that Huntsville Manor is able to provide to those patients.
“We’re able to do a good job of keeping those patients in-house and treating them,” she said. “We’re treating them rather than just sending them back out to the hospital.”
Huntsville Manor was even able to help bridge the health care gap while Scott County’s hospital was closed.
“It was unfortunate when the hospital closed,” Buttram said. “Hopefully, knock on wood, things are going to work out there, because we need a hospital. But I feel like we provided a lot of care for some of those patients in the absence of the hospital.”
Of course, not to be lost is the fact that Huntsville Manor is still fulfilling its original goal of providing long-term care for those who need it. Of the average resident count, more than half of Huntsville Manor’s clients are long-term residents.
But the bottom line? “Sometimes people don’t know what we are,” Buttram said. “You don’t see it until you’re actually here.”
This article is the September 2017 installment of "Business Spotlight," presented on the third week of each month by the Scott County Chamber of Commerce as part of the Independent Herald's Back Page Features series.