Blue Ridge Rehab’s temporary manager, Kissito, soon will take over on a permanent basis – and give the facility a $3 million upgrade.

Ownership of Blue Ridge Manor already has changed hands.

The name of both will be Mulberry Creek.

“We just really wanted to get started on a new day and better tomorrow for the building,” said Robert McClintic, CEO of Kissito Healthcare. “We want to rebrand the buildings for both” and are “looking at something new. We’re committed to this.”

In June, Martinsville Circuit Court Judge G. Carter Greer issued an emergency order and appointed a special receiver, Suzanne Roski of Protiviti Inc. in Richmond, in an effort to keep open the financially struggling Blue Ridge Rehab Center and Blue Ridge Manor assisted living facility in Martinsville.

In a report in July, the Martinsville Bulletin described how, in addition to the facilities’ financial problems, the state has cited dozens of deficiencies and violations during recent years, ranging from tending to patients’ specific needs, to levels of staffing, to maintenance of the facilities, to making sure that temperatures aren’t too hot for the hundreds of aging, fragile and infirmed who live there or visit there for treatment.

Roski hired Kissito Healthcare of Roanoke to manage both facilities on a temporary basis. Now Kissito’s role will become permanent.

At the facilities Friday, work crews were digging at the entrance by the sign and on the east side of the lot. The edges of the rooftop were flagged off, and men were working there.

Yellow flyers posted in elevators read, in part, “We are so excited about the transition currently taking place to become Kissito Healthcare Mulberry Creek!”

They asked that residents or their representatives stop by the admission office to “sign the new Kissito Admission Agreement as soon as possible.”

“We have filed paperwork with the state looking to change the name for the assisted living as well as the skilled” nursing facility (rehab center), McClintic said.

The assisted living facility came out of receivership in November, and the rehab center is expected to come out of receivership on Jan. 20, he said.

Bob Nelson will continue as administrator of Mulberry Creek, Mcclintic said. Nelson said he started in that role in July.

“Bob has been around for many years here in the state of Virginia,” McClintic said. “He’s got an excellent reputation. I’ve worked with Bob on several different locations.”

Nelson, who commutes from North Carolina near the state line, will “really lead and help turn this building around,” McClintic said.

Meanwhile, improvements already have begun. Kissito put in a new walk-in freezer and refrigerator and has improved laundry facilities in the nursing and rehab center.

After the change is official, “we’re excited about overhauling the building,” he said.

Renovations will be done both to the rehab center’s common areas and “top to bottom in the patients’ rooms as well,” he said. New flooring and furniture will be put in, and walls will be painted and wallpapered.

The physical therapy and occupational speech therapy departments will be renovated “to make it more patient-friendly,” he said. “We’ve had a lot of success in some of our markets with rehab programs, really. There’s a great opportunity here.”

Results of the projects will be “enhancing the overall look and feel of the facility,” he said.

Other work will be done largely behind the scenes. That includes a roof, which is being put on now; a new generator, and remodeling the kitchen.

Kissito also plans to “expand upon the staffing in the building,” he said.

A part of that would be through recruiting and training Certified Nursing Assistants. A few months ago, he said, about 70 people applied to enter a CNA class Kissito had announced in Martinsville.

“That tells me there’s a market there of people wanting to go to work,” McClintic said. Kissito has “submitted all the paperwork to the state to become where we can provide CNA training in-house.”

Approval should come soon, he said, and then Kissito would have four or five classes a year to train CNAs.

Kissito also plans to “expand upon nursing positions” and is working on “wage enhancements now.”

The name of Blue Ridge Rehab will be changed to Mulberry Creek Nursing and Rehab Center around Jan. 20, and Mulberry Creek became the permanent manager the former Blue Ridge Assisted Living Center in November, McClintic said.

Kathy Creegan-Tedeschi is the director of the Long Term Care Division under the Virginia Department of Health’s Office of Licensure and Certification, under which Blue Ridge Rehab falls. The Long Term Care Division is responsible for the licensing and federal certification of nursing facilities and Medicaid certification of intermediate care facilities for the intellectually disabled.

“We still do have it as Blue Ridge,” she said. “We have not received official word yet that they’re out of receivership. … They did tell us they were changing the name.”

Any change that would go through the Long Term Care Division would come “when they have gone to court,” with receivership “officially ended,” she said.

“I don’t think it’s” going to be too far in the future, she added.

Martinsville Commissioner of the Revenue Ruth Easley said she has been “working with new entities coming in to get them licensed,” but she did not give any names. There are “a lot of complicated moving parts with this,” she added.

The buildings are owned by Omega Health Care, a real estate investment trust company, and the previous operator of the two centers was Sovran Health Care.

Virginia Department of Social Services lists five assisted living facilities in Martinsville, including the former Blue Ridge Assisted Living as Mulberry Creek Assisted Living. (Others are Hairston Home for Adults, 601 Armstead Ave.; Starling View Manor, 301 Starling Ave.; Kings Grant, 350 Kings Way Road; and Starling View Manor #2, 337 E. Church St.)

Mulberry Creek Assisted Living has a 1-year license, which expires on Jan. 2, 2021, the database states. Its administrator is Mcclintic, and Cynthia Jo Ball is listed as its inspector.

Before becoming involved with the Blue Ridge facilities, Kissito had five similar homes in other rural markets, McClintic said.

“Martinsville is a great area,” McClintic said. The rehab center “reminds us so much of other buildings we operate. We have had good success there, great clinical outcomes.”

Holly Kozelsky is a writer for the Martinsville Bulletin; contact her at 276-638-8801 ext. 243.

Holly Kozelsky is a writer for the Martinsville Bulletin; contact her at 276-638-8801 ext. 243.

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