Since July 27 when the Nathaniel Witherell’s rating from CMS (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid) dropped to a single star the community has waited for the other shoe to drop.
Last Friday, Deputy Director / Director of Nursing Nadia Benson, RN sent a letter to staff with the subject line “Impending Farewell” announcing her resignation. She said her last day would be Sept 16.
In her widely circulated letter, Benson acknowledged her move came at a time when the facility was facing adversity, and pledged to give her role “100,000%” during her last month.
Meanwhile the Witherell posted a new full time job online for a Resident Relations Manager, reporting to the executive director, with an annual salary of between $86,246.00 – $111,287.00.
The Resident Relations Manager: “provides general, day-to-day support to the Executive Director and Senior Management Team in ensuring the health, safety, welfare and customer satisfaction of residents and in addressing issues related to service delivery and quality of care.”
In an email to Nathaniel Witherell families and friends on Wednesday, Witherell’s administrator John Mastronardi addressed the slip in star rating, describing it as an anomaly. He said while he understood the news of the ratings slip may have caused concern, he was confident the top tier ranking would be reinstated.
“A plan of correction was immediately devised that addressed the issues that were cited,” Mastronardi wrote. “That plan has been accepted by the Dept of Health, and we have begun to implement it as follows: We are rebuilding our nurse training and education program – looking for any gaps – and providing ongoing refresher training which includes core nursing principles, accurate documentation, standards of care, effective communication, and reinforcing our policies and procedures.”
Mastronardi said the Witherell continued to have high staff retention rates and excellent rankings from U.S. News & World Report.
“As I see it, you having a conversation with me about the ratings or anything else is the most effective way to share what’s on your mind and for you to get a true picture. My door is always open.”
Asked via email about Benson’s resignation and the Resident Relations Manager position, Mr. Mastronardi, through a PR agency, replied, “The Nathaniel Witherell does not comment on personnel matters.”
A Family Council co-chair did respond to a request for comment.
By email, Sheilah Smith said while the facility has been an important, well managed, town supported asset to the community for years, seeing it drop from 5 stars to 1 in the past two years was “an embarrassment to our town.”
“We should use the Deputy Director job opening created by (Benson’s) resignation as an opportunity to find a qualified medical professional who can help restore the facility to what Greenwich deserves,” she said.
“Family members insist that the next Deputy Director, who is also Director of Nursing at Witherell, demonstrate prior significant experience in overseeing the care of residents in a 5 star, skilled nursing facility. A nationwide search is a must in this economic environment,” Smith said.
“Sadly, there is no job posting yet for this important position, while there is a posting for a brand new, $110,000 management position to serve as intermediary between the Executive Director, family and residents,” Smith continued. “Direct communication with family and residents has always been the responsibility of the Executive Director. Given the pressure from Town Hall on Witherell to cut its budget, Witherell should be using this money elsewhere to bring the facility back to 5 stars.”