Sunlight filters through the large windows of recently revamped Atlantic Shores Rehabilitation & Health Center in Millsboro, sparkling on new gold-flecked tile flooring.
The upgraded facility has received the top five-star rating from Medicare's national nursing home website, a major improvement from the two-star rating the facility received just two years ago. According to the website, Atlantic Shores is one of only two five-star nursing homes within 25 miles of Millsboro.
Atlantic Shores Administrator JR Payne credits Global Healthcare, which took over the facility five years ago, and the commitment of staff and healthcare personnel with the improved rating, which required hiring more staff and offering more comprehensive services for residents.
Payne, a registered nurse who previously inspected nursing homes, said Atlantic Shores has come a long way.
"We used to be a special-focus facility because we needed improvement based on state health inspections," Payne said. "In August of 2012 we graduated to five-star facility. It's a big accomplishment."
Two-star facilities receive twice yearly inspections, sometimes more, Payne said.
"Within a 25-mile radius, our rating is much above average," he said. "We worked very hard for that."
Prior to becoming a residential treatment and rehabilitation center, Atlantic Shores was a nursing home under different owners, most recently known as Green Valley Terrace.
Global Healthcare, a for-profit company based in Howell, N.J., acquired Atlantic Shores in 2008. Since then, the company has invested more than $1 million and done a lot of remodeling, said Payne.
Atlantic Shores features four neighborhoods, or sections, within the building. Two neighborhoods, with a total of 181 beds, are for long-term care residents cared for by a skilled nursing staff.
A third wing with 34 beds is for short-term care for people who will stay at the facility for two to six weeks.
The fourth neighborhood offers specialized care for memory-impaired residents, with special activities and therapies designed for residents with dementia or Alzheimer's disease, Payne said.
Among the 280 employees at Atlantic Shores are educated nursing personnel, certified nursing assistants, registered nurses, dietitians and in-house physical and occupational therapists.
"We pride ourselves on the excellent nursing care we provide here," Payne said.
In the sunny lobby are several caged birds who enjoy regular visits from residents. At the on-site health center, residents can stay fit using specially designed machines to improve muscle strength.
Global Healthcare manages 25 facilities on the East Coast, but only two are in Delaware. Atlantic Shores's sister facility in Delaware, Pinnacle Rehabilitation & Health Center, is located in Smyrna.
Hospitals, hospice organizations and doctors refer patients to Atlantic Shores administrators. Each referred patient is assessed to determine specific needs and to decide if Atlantic Shores is the right choice.
Payne said some short-term patients move to long-term care if they are unable to safely return home.
In other cases, home-health aides bring a patient to the facility for respite care while a patient's family is on vacation. Aides provide a positive transition from home care to the facility, and usually after about a week, the patient returns home.
Private and semi-private rooms are available. A buffet-style breakfast is served each morning, and residents can choose what time they want to eat, and whether they want to go to the dining room or eat in their rooms.
"We want them to feel like this is their home," Payne said. "Everything is done in-house, including laundry, meals and therapy. We have dietitians to help plan menus for each patient, as well as respiratory therapists, and physicians and nurse practitioners often visit their patients here."
Transportation is also provided so residents can travel to family events and doctor appointments. Each week a hair stylist sets up shop to provide beauty care, Payne said.
For more information on Atlantic Shores, go to atlanticrhc.com. For information on the facility's five-star rating, go to the nursing home compare website through the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services at www.medicare.gov/NursingHomeCompare/search.aspx?bhcp=1.