When Michael O'Dea was hired as the new executive director of Benchmark Healthcare of Rolla in March of 2012, he inherited a nursing home in distress.
The facility located at 1200 McCutchen Drive had been de-certified since the summer of 2011 by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), a federal government regulatory agency.
The facility at that time was owned by Helia Healthcare and continually had a poor track record in quality customer care.
However, Thursday will mark a new chapter for this 90-bed assisted living facility.
Benchmark will be hosting a ribbon cutting ceremony and open house to celebrate its re-certification as a Medicaid and Medicare facility and the completion of its $2 million remodeling project.
Interestingly, Thursday's open house, which will be from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., will mark almost to the day when the facility received the letter stating that it was no longer certified.
O'Dea never thought this day would arrive. He was brought on to get the nursing home running up to par and to be re-certified.
"It was a huge project," he said. "We re-tooled staff and we have implemented programs to become much more customer focused."
He did training with his staff on all three shifts and on the weekends to raise the bar in terms of excellent residential care. He credits Benchmark Healthcare's home office in St. Louis in providing a vision and resources to turn the place around.
O'Dea proudly noted that the facelift the 35-year-old building received was all done by area contractors. The remodeling and construction took a year to complete.
According to O'Dea it is a much brighter, warmer place to be.
With that in mind, his goal is to have the nursing home full by year's end. As of today there are 34 residents there. The facility can accommodate up to 90.
O'Dea said that the long hours and inconveniences over the last 18 months or so were well worth the effort.
"I knew we would eventually get it done," he said. "I am excited about all the changes which I know will benefit our residents as well as our staff."