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Bella Sera Nursing Facility regains 5-Star status

Ridgecrest Regional Hospital (RRH)–  Bella Sera Skilled Nursing Facility (Bella Sera) has once again distinguished itself in the top 10 percent of skilled nursing facilities after being awarded a 5-Star Rating from the Centers for Medicare Services.

“A 5-star rating is difficult to achieve, even in the best of circumstances, much less during a global pandemic,” said Ashley McQuade, director of nursing at Bella Sera. 

“This achievement demonstrates our commitment to high-quality care and outcomes for our residents and our ongoing efforts to contribute to the mission of Ridgecrest Regional Hospital.”

McQuade noted that, in particular, the staff should be commended for this designation.

“They have gone above and beyond the normal call of duty which, under the best of conditions, is stressful and physically demanding. Our staff has demonstrated professionalism and commitment to their profession as well as dedication to the safety and well-being of our residents.”

From the beginning of the COVID crisis, healthcare experts warned that our senior population were among the most vulnerable to serious illness and death from coronavirus. For the first 18 months of the pandemic, Bella Sera remained the only SNF in Kern County (and one of only a handful in the state) to keep COVID from infecting the resident populations. 

“Regulatory guidelines were ever-changing throughout the COVID crisis,” said McQuade. “Although this created a significant amount of stress and concern amongst our residents and family members, the Bella Sera staff remained steadfast and consistent.”

For the most part, McQuade said that families and loved ones understood that the restrictions that limited visitations were in place to protect residents. 

“Our activities staff worked countless hours ensuring that residents were able to maintain communication and visitation with their family members as regulations allowed.”

The CMS rating system assesses many components of SNF operations. Facilities like Bella Sera earn their rating by establishing practices that maintain the highest levels of safety and care for the resident populations. 

“Quality measures are comprised of risk factors among our resident population as well as our interventions related to health conditions,” said McQuade. “The measures demonstrate our ability to prevent adverse outcomes in resident care and assist our residents in maintaining their highest possible functional level as well as their quality of life. 

“Regaining our fifth star demonstrates our commitment to ongoing improvement, even in the adversities that were faced throughout the COVID crisis.”

One of the recurring challenges during that crisis has been staffing. Healthcare workers in general, and especially those caring for the elderly populations, have been under prolonged stress as risk factors and precautions continue to evolve. “Burnout rates are at an all-time high, leading to significant staffing turnovers,” said McQuade.

“The challenges we faced as a result of the COVID-related regulations and challenges led to staffing shortages, causing those staff members that remained to have to work long hours and extra shifts under very difficult conditions.”

Although skilled worker shortages have impacted every industry and region of the U.S., rural healthcare employees are among those that have been hardest hit. 

RRH has been working to mitigate these shortfalls by offering multiple cohorts each year to train newly certified nursing assistants. If you are interested in exploring a career in healthcare, contact .

“We are so grateful to the staff at Bella Sera. I know that their true motivation is in protecting the health and safety of our residents, but I am happy to see that their tremendous dedication has been acknowledged,” said Jim Suver, RRH CEO. “I am also glad to share this accomplishment with our community. So many of the sacrifices of our healthcare workers go unnoticed, and I think it’s important that we take the opportunity, when we can, to honor their service and professionalism.”

Bella Sera is recognized for achieving a resident vaccination rate above 90 percent. /Courtesy Photo