BARSTOW /California Newswire/ — Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today announced that the Veterans Home of California in Barstow (VHC-Barstow) has received the highest possible honor under the new rating system established by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). The facility received an outstanding score of five out of a possible five stars for health inspections, staffing levels and quality measures.

“When I first visited the Barstow Home nearly four years ago, it was facing possible closure and had just given up its skilled nursing facility license because of severe problems and staff shortages,” said Governor Schwarzenegger. “I promised the veterans of this state and the residents of this home that we would turn the facility around and make it a model for others to copy. I congratulate the staff of the Barstow Veterans Home and my entire team at the California Department of Veterans Affairs for achieving this great milestone.”

In 2006, the Governor visited VHC-Barstow, after learning the skilled nursing facility was closed due to problems with staff shortages and patient care issues in 2003. While there he met with residents and discussed ways to improve the facility.

Since VHC-Barstow gave up their skilled nursing facility license and reorganized management of the home, the Administration has hired a new administrator for the home, applied and won a grant from U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs to fund nursing retention incentives, sent in peer review teams and experts in home division and budgeting from headquarters and provided funding for staffing to reopen the skilled nursing facility.

The Five-Star Quality Rating System was created to help consumers, their families, and caregivers compare nursing homes more easily and help identify areas about which they may want to ask questions. This rating system is based on continued efforts as a result of the Omnibus Reconciliation Act of 1987, a nursing home reform law and more recent quality improvement campaigns such as the Advancing Excellence in America’s Nursing Homes, a coalition of consumers, health care providers, and nursing home professionals. Nursing home ratings are taken from three sources of data including health inspections, staffing and quality measures.

“I am extremely proud of the entire Barstow team for this achievement, and commend the Administrator, Jaime Todd, and his entire staff for their dedication, hard work, and mission focus,” said Roger Brautigan, Acting Secretary of the California Department of Veterans Affairs. “The Governor and I share the goal of providing our veterans the finest individual care we can possibly provide. It’s exactly what the people of California have the right to expect of us, and is precisely what our veterans deserve.”

Located in the high desert of Southern California, VHC-Barstow is midway between Los Angeles and Las Vegas and about an hour’s drive from the Ontario Airport. Opened February 1996, VHC-Barstow has 400 beds, providing options for Domiciliary (Independent Living), Intermediate Care and Skilled Nursing Care. Acute hospital care is provided at either the Jerry L. Pettis Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Loma Linda for those veterans eligible for VA care, or at the Barstow Community Hospital. Primary medical care is provided to domiciliary residents at the on-site clinic. For intermediate care residents, contract physicians visit the home and regularly provide care.

The home provides California veterans with a living environment that protects their dignity and contributes to their feeling of self-reliance and self-worth. Nearby Barstow College offers many cultural and educational opportunities for Home residents to enjoy. Veterans desiring to be considered for membership must be residents of California, age 62 or older (or younger if disabled), and have served honorably.