Fort Kent

Forest Hill staff receive excellence awards

FORT KENT, Maine — Two employees at Forest Hill Rehab and Skilled Nursing Center are recipients of the Maine Health Care Association and the Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program’s Maine 2021 Excellence in Long Term Care Award.

The team at Forest Hill nominated Reggie Murray, an infection preventionist, and JR Laferriere, who works with the activities department and is also a transporter for residents needing rides to appointments or services, and received word that a panel of judges had awarded the honor to both nominees. 

Staff at Forest Hill announced the awards to the recipients in a surprise celebration Sept. 15. A more formal, statewide, virtual awards celebration was held Sept. 30.

The Excellence in Long Term Care Award recognizes employees statewide who have consistently exemplified a commendable level of caregiving, dedication, and professionalism in caring for their residents/consumers. 

The ongoing pandemic has presented a plethora of unique challenges for residents at nursing care facilities across the country, including increased feelings of depression – a result of social isolation and distance from families as many facilities halted visitation from people outside of the organization for long stretches of time. Many staff, recognizing how the situation was impacting residents, found creative ways to make a difference and bring some joy to their residents’ daily lives. 

“We chose to nominate JR because he completely changed his role from transporter to assisting with activities. He started his own personal daily group with residents where they all have coffee and donuts and simply discuss daily events,” said Forest Hill Administrator Travis Guy, RN, BSN. 

Forest Hill has consistently achieved five-star quality ratings from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services across all five measured parameters. Even so, when the pandemic began, there was a need to step up quality and safety standards to a higher level, and staff immediately set to the task of keeping their residents safe. Implementing safety measures and protocols was one step, and teaching people what to do and why to do it was another. 

“We chose to nominate Reggie, well, because she is awesome,” said Guy. “In all seriousness, she did anything and everything we asked of her. She provided large amounts of education to staff regarding safety during COVID, completed fit testing on all staff, rounded on the floors and explained everything we did to both staff and residents. She adjusted her schedule when needed, and the list goes on and on.”

Each winner of the award received a digital award certificate to print and frame and will receive a cash award and commemorative program book from the statewide celebration.

“We’re so very proud of our employees receiving this award, and of all of our employees for really working tirelessly throughout this pandemic to ensure our residents have the highest quality care. Our employees have consistently gone above and beyond for our residents and when you are surrounded by people who you know love and care for you, then you have a place where you can feel home. We strive to make our residents feel that every day here at Forest Hill, and this recognition demonstrates that effort,” said Guy.

To learn more about the Excellence in Long Term Care Award, visit https://www.mehca.org/excellenceinltc.

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