Allied Services celebrates employees, investments in senior care

Allied Services celebrates employees, investments in senior care

REPOSTED FROM CITIZENS VOICE - by Steve Mocarsky

WILKES-BARRE — Some senior citizens got to see cuddly puppies, colorful butterflies, spectacular fireworks and even some elephants Thursday through the use of virtual reality gear that made the experience, well, virtually real.

“It was really beautiful, breathtaking,” Dorothy Krugel, 80, said after the demonstration at Allied Services Meade Street Residence. “You felt as though you were right there in the middle of things.”

Purchasing the virtual reality system is one of the investments Allied Services has made to help improve the lives of residents and among those that officials touted during a Day of Caring event the Pennsylvania Health Care Association hosted at the personal care/assisted living facility.

“Today, we’re very proud to be here to show our appreciation for the staff working in long-term care, whether they’re on the floor caring for residents or whether they’re in the front office,” Zach Shamberg, PHCA president and CEO, said at a press conference before the demonstration. “These are the women and men who have remained on the front lines of the COVOID-19 pandemic since March 2020.”

Allied officials later served a catered lunch to residents and staff.

“And we’re also here to show our appreciation to our legislative champions,” Shamberg said before introducing state Sen. John Yudichak, I-14, Swoyersville, and state Rep. Eddie Day Pashinski, D-121, Wilkes-Barre.

Shamberg said state legislators prioritized nursing homes in the state budget by approving a 17.5% increase in Medicaid reimbursement rates — the first such increase since 2014 — as well as one-time stimulus funds that can be put toward COVID-19 expenses.

“That funding and that investment will empower providers across Pennsylvania to invest in their residents and their workers, to recruit new caregivers to the front lines and to meet skyrocketing operating expenses. These investments will help providers like Allied to continue their mission, and that is evident in what we see on this campus today,” Shamberg said.

Yudichak called the Medicaid increase and $400 million appropriation “big numbers and big wins.” But, he said, “more work remains to address a developing workforce crisis in the long-term care industry.”

Allied Services is using some of the increased funding to provide:

  • Loyalty bonuses to nursing staff, including certified nursing assistants.
  • Double pay for overtime shifts.
  • An increase in LPN starting rates to $25 per hour.
  • A “Paid Preceptor” program that provides enhanced support and mentorship for new hires.
  • Paid CNA training on-site with guaranteed placement upon successful completion.

Tuition reimbursement for all staff and, for those just graduating high school, fully paid tuition through a partnership with Lackawanna College.

Bill Conaboy, Allied Services president and CEO, said the nonprofit also has invested millions of dollars into the campus, “and there’s much more to come.

“In the coming weeks, you’ll see the beautiful improvements we’re making not only here at Meade Street, but right down the road at our Center City project,” Conaboy said. “We’re very proud to be part of the resurgence of the City of Wilkes-Barre.”

Allied Services is investing $17.5 million to renovate the skilled nursing and personal care facilities on Meade Street and the Center City Skilled Nursing Center on East Northampton Street.

Jim Brogna, vice president of Strategic Partnership Development, said all personal care resident rooms at Meade Street have been renovated and modernized, nearly complete lobby and dining room renovations at the skilled nursing center will provide a modern, hotel-like feel, and nurses station modernization will create greater efficiency and ease of access for residents, nurses and aides.

Allied invested in the virtual reality system to provide residents with “virtual access to the world,” and in iN2L technology that is incorporated into activities to “enhance memory retention and to maintain regular contact between dementia residents and their families,” according to literature.

Brogna noted that the Center City facility was the only nursing home in Luzerne County to maintain a top rating of five stars from Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the Meade Street facility rating increased from one to three stars since Allied purchased the facilities from the Diocese of Scranton in 2019.