Updated: Apr 5
By: Ashley Strehl - Managing Editor of Print and Digital Publications
From one side of the job to the other, these four women have helped pave the way for Voyage Long Term Care’s success in completing state surveys, and improving the lives of team members and residents within our long-term care communities.
Debbie Zamarripa, Anitra Scott, and Myra Smith are Corporate Nurse Managers under the direction of Chief Nursing Officer, Marci Wilson. Zamarripa, Scott, and Smith’s duties include visiting our long-term care communities and prepping all team members at Skyview Nursing Center, Oak Hills Care Center, and Edmond Health Care Center for questions that could be asked by visiting survey representatives from the long-term care division of the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH).
Survey representatives of the long-term care division of the OSDH are expected to visit licensed long-term care communities once a year, or any time there is a complaint filed. State surveyors can ask a wide spectrum of questions of any team member that is working within the long-term care community on any day that they visit. State surveyors also shadow and observe those doing their job to ensure that the proper policies and protocols are being followed.
If state surveyors find that proper procedures are not being followed, there is a chance that the long-term care community could receive a “deficiency,” which could become a monetary fine. “The important thing about our survey prep team, is that they are already mock surveying our employees,” Chief Nursing Officer (CNO), Marci Wilson said. “If they see any team member do anything incorrectly, then they will ask them why they did it that way and educate them on how they can do it differently, so they are prepared when state-surveyors come to visit.”
All four of the women have an extensive background in nursing and have even worked as state surveyors for the OSDH. Wilson recruited former OSDH coworker, Smith, who helped in recruiting former coworkers, Zamarripa and Scott. CNO, Wilson, got her start in assisted living as a Registered Nurse (RN). “All I’ve ever done is work in long-term care,” Wilson said. “Then I decided I wanted to go work as a surveyor, I have a love for surveying, I really do.” Wilson was a state surveyor for the OSDH for five years and transitioned back and forth from nursing to surveying until she was recruited for the position of CNO at Voyage Long Term Care.
Zamarripa received her nursing license in 1986 and was a RN for many years. Her most recent role was with OSDH in management over the long-term care divisions state-surveyors. “For so many years, I worked on the other side, overseeing the implementation of the rules and regulations,” Zamarripa said. “Now I get to interact with the residents more, and that’s what I’ve missed most.”
Scott has worked in nursing since 1996 as an LPN (Licensed Practical Nurse), and recently worked for the OSDH for three years, where she gained her knowledge in state-surveying. “It would kind of drag me down to be the one who always had to tell people they were doing something wrong,” Scott said. “I shadowed Myra for two days at Voyage Long Term Care and instantly fell in love with it.”
Smith also has several years of experience in many different sectors of nursing and later worked as a state surveyor. “I understand the need for the surveys to be done to keep long-term care communities at an optimum level,” Smith said.
Smith states that the most important part of what the team does is education. “I believe that education is the key to everything,” Smith said. “Part of our job is to help the team. It is our job to give them the knowledge that they need to do their job according to state policies and procedures, whether it’s a housekeeper, or DON (Director of Nursing) ... I love light bulb moments. You can explain something to someone many ways, but when they finally see the bigger picture, that this is the order of doing things according to regulation, that’s when we see the benefit of what we do.”
Wilson states that one of the biggest advocates of the survey-prep team is that they have helped maintain Infection Control Protocols during the COVID-19 Pandemic. State-surveyors of the OSDH have especially focused on overseeing these protocols during their visits in the past year. “My main goal when I brought this team of women to Voyage was to have a focus of maintaining infection control,” Wilson said. “When COVID happened, we would only see state surveyors for COVID surveys and IJ (Immediate Jeopardy) type complaints. All four of us were still working for the state when COVID started, so having that knowledge has helped us a lot.”
Wilson said that the OSDH state-surveyors have customized their COVID-19 questions for every department within long-term care communities. For example, they could ask what kind of PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) is appropriate for different residents and settings. They could ask housekeepers what chemicals are being used to clean different residents’ rooms. Surveyors could even go in the kitchen and ask which plates are being used for residents who are and are not on quarantine. “Anything that you can think of that could be related to the safety of the residents could be asked,” Wilson said. “We’re lucky to have Anitra, Myra, and Debbie because they are already doing that.”
At the end of the day, all four of the women agree that what they do is for the betterment of the quality of life of the residents within our long-term care communities. “I feel that the most important part of my job is ensuring that the residents are treated like family,” Scott said. “Because that long-term care community is their home. All the residents are so full of knowledge. They’re also all so funny, and it brightens up my day to see their smiles.”