St. Elizabeth Rehabilitation and Nursing Center received a five-star rating from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, placing it “much above average” for nursing homes, based on its performance in health inspections, staffing and quality of resident care.

The rating system, available here, is designed to provide comparable, easy-to-understand snapshots of facilities and ratings ranging between one and five stars. St. Elizabeth’s perfect overall score reflects a step up from its previous four-star rating.

“It’s really a vote of confidence,” said Administrator Zachary Richards, who added that the recognition comes at a key moment. “That we are being recognized for our efforts, especially in a dark time – it’s just reaffirming for the staff.”

Nursing homes are heavily regulated facilities that are subject to oversight at state and federal levels, and must submit data on the condition and care of every elder at regular intervals. Over the past several months, Richards said the facility has been intentionally focused on increasing the number of nursing staff. This change helped lead to the higher rating, as the addition of nursing staff improves the staff-to-elder ratio and allows staff to spend more time with each elder, building caring relationships.

Staffing up during the COVID-19 pandemic has been a challenge, and Richards said all nursing homes have also had to battle public fears and misperceptions during this time.

“Things like this just let us take a step back. It’s a huge pat on the back for the staff. A huge morale booster,” he said.

Still dealing with the increased needs of the pandemic, the facility has not yet had time to celebrate this recognition – but will sometime in the future.

“We will do something to celebrate when we get through the second wave,” Richards said. “Right now, it’s keep calm and carry on.”