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Next to Marshall Medical Center in Placerville is a skilled nursing residential rehabilitation center for people recovering from serious illnesses, injuries or major surgeries.
The campus has been there for 40 years. Western Slope Health Center purchased it in 2011 and hired Doug Hawkins, RN, as administrator.
Hawkins graduated from Ponderosa High School and received his nursing degree from the University of New York. Before coming to Placerville, he was director of nursing in a skilled nursing setting and worked as a consultant.
“It’s wonderful to be back working in the community,” he said.
Assisting Hawkins is Laurie Randall, LVN, director of marketing. Randall is also a Ponderosa High School graduate. She received her training when Sacramento City College had a Placerville outreach program. She was one of 12 students out of 300 applicants who were accepted to train at Marshall Medical Center.
The center has 99 beds. Hawkins said about half of the residents are there for short-term rehabilitation, usually four to six weeks. The other half are there for longer periods.
Residents receive skilled nursing services and assisted living. The goal is to transition them back home as quickly and safely as possible.
Most of the residents are in their 70s or 80s. Hawkins said the youngest was 22 and the oldest was 109. “She broke her hip while cleaning the cat box. We rehabilitated her and she was able to return home,” said Hawkins.
He is overseeing a refurbishing of the complex. “I want Western Slope Health Center to be the first choice for people who need residential rehabilitation.”
He said Western Slope is the only facility to offer intensive medical care.
“We have skilled RN/LVN coverage 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” he said.
There are 140 staff members. Some have worked at the facility over 30 years.
“We have the only licensed California-approved certified nurses training,” said Hawkins. Students can qualify for positions as a Certified Nursing Assistant or a Certified Restorative Nursing Assistant.
“We are graduating 15 this year,” said Randall.
Skilled nursing services include 24-hour certified nurses assistant care, diabetic monitoring and training, hospice care, training to deal with incontinence, pain management, intravenous therapy, oxygen therapy, respite care and wound care management.
Rehabilitative services include anodyne therapy to relieve distress or pain, orthopedic, fracture and replacement rehabilitation, physical therapy, post-surgical rehabilitation, restorative aid program, speech therapy, strength and endurance training, stroke and post-stroke rehabilitation and VitaStim therapy to improve swallowing.
When residents are referred from Marshall Medical Center, Western Slope partners with Marshall for their case management. Western Slope also partners with Snowline Hospice.
Hawkins said referrals also come from home health care providers, assisted living providers, and personal recommendations.
He is creating a treatment center that is more than just a rehabilitation facility.
“I want it to feel like a resort,” he said, appealing to residents’ emotional well-being as well as their physical restoration.
“We have a culinary chef on staff and offer fine dining in our Belltower Café,” he said. A registered dietitian helps residents with weight management and nutritional eating.
A certified recreation therapist offers a healthy fitness class at 10 a.m. daily for all residents.
There is a full salon and barbershop for women and men, providing haircuts, coloring, permanents, waxing, manicures and facials.
Among the indoor activities are watercolor and oil painting, pottery and beading.
Outings are popular. “Residents like to go out to brunch and to the movies,” said Hawkins. “We always go to the El Dorado County Fair and Apple Hill. We are installing a large saltwater fish tank in the entry. When it is ready, some of the residents will go to Lee’s Feed and pick out the fish.”
To make room for the fish tank, Hawkins would like to see the grand piano in the entry find a loving home.
“We think it was made sometime between 1820 and 1840. It‘s quite large and heavy, and our residents have a smaller piano they prefer to play.”
Since Western Slope’s goal is to safely return residents home, residents are encouraged to live as independently as possible. The room environments are realistic, with kitchenettes, living area and a full bathroom.
For socializing, there are large common areas.
Hawkins and Randall both appreciate being able to work at Western Slope Health Center, “on a hill nestled among the pines.”
Providing rehabilitative care “is a calling, not a job,” said Hawkins. “Our staff members are committed to helping residents reach their highest level of independence.”
Western Slope Health Center is located at 3280 Washington St. in Placerville.
For more information, visit www.westernslopehealthcenter.com.
To arrange a personal tour, call 530-622-6842.