The day was Aug. 27 and both Donna Evans and Bonnie Sawyer were scrambling. Inspectors had descended upon Marion Assisted Living.
State surveyors from Kansas Department of Aging and Disability Services can come any time from nine to 18 months after the last survey they conducted — no additional notice is given.
“They just walk in the door, ‘We’re here,’ and that’s it,” Sawyer said.
When they came this summer, Sawyer was in Council Grove.
“I had to get back here, fast,” she said.
Donna Evans, the facility’s director of nursing, was taking residents to their doctor appointments. Evans had been on the job for just over three months and was still acclimating to the position after taking a hiatus from nursing. She previously had worked at St. Luke Hospital and Golden Living in Chase County.
Most of the assessment’s criteria were in her field of patient care.
“Everything we do has to match up with the guidelines,” she said. “We have to be following doctors’ orders, all medications have to be up-to-date and administered correctly.”
Evans had, to the best of her knowledge, done everything right. But she couldn’t be certain.
“I was just like, ‘OK, what’d we miss?’” she said. “You can’t change it, you’ve just got to fix it.”
The survey came back deficiency-free, which according to KDADS figures, is a feat that fewer than 3 percent of all Kansas nursing homes accomplished in 2014.
“This achievement puts Marion Assisted Living in the top tier of performance for assisted living facilities in Kansas,” KDADS secretary Kari Bruffett said.
Sawyer said the scot-free survey was a result of staff collaboration.
“We have a good staff,” she said. “It’s a team effort.”
Evans said the staff under her has made her job easier.
“Everything I ask always gets done,” she said.
She encourages her staffers to call her at any time, and says “there’s no such thing as a dumb question.
“If you don’t know something, or think you know but aren’t certain, you need to find out for sure,” she said.
Her philosophy, she said, is to prioritize her patients.
“Listen to your patients,” she said. “They know their bodies, they know their history.”
Receiving high marks on the state survey should give confidence to residents about the care they receive.
“They can know the staff will stand behind them 100 percent,” Evans said. “They know they’ll be taken care of, they know they’ll have their needs met.”