New retirement center increases need for nurses

KINGMAN ­ Ground should be broken in June or July on an assisted living facility as the first part of a project that will see a retirement center built on 48 acres of land west of Western Avenue between Sycamore Avenue and Riata Valley Road.

Patrick Nugent is a co-owner of Peterson Rancho Norte Quarenta. William T. Miller Engineering in Lake Havasu City and Canyon Creek Development of Salem, Ore., are other property owners involved in the project.

"The assisted living building being planned is two floors with one side for assisted living people and the other for senior apartments," Nugent said.

Completion could take 2-3 years and would be followed by construction of a clubhouse and cottages, plus a dementia care unit for people afflicted with Alzheimer's disease.

A skilled nursing unit would be the final part of the multi-phase project and would not begin construction for 3-4 years.

The Kingman Planning and Zoning Commission approved requested zoning changes to the property during a meeting last Tuesday.

A total of 13.72 acres of the property are now zoned C-2. Proposed use outlined in the city of Kingman General Plan is for a 149-unit assisted living facility, 81-unit assisted living and 24-bed Alzheimer's facility, and another 55-unit assisted living facility, creating 309 total units.

Nugent was asked about plans for 24-hour staffing in light of a nationwide shortage of registered nurses.

"Staffing is always a challenge," he said. "What we try to do is grow our own nurses in-house. We pay for training up to LPN schooling. We also try to raise CNAs (certified nursing assistants) that want to move on from there by assisting them, too."

Julie Mitchell, nurse administrator at The Gardens Care Center campuses, said her facility would work with the new retirement center's assisted living unit.

"We do our own training and must keep up with all the new technology," Mitchell said. "It's going to be busy in Kingman in the years to come with a lot of work ahead to serve the disabled and elderly.

"We are skilled nursing and Alzheimer's care providers. The new assisted living facility to be built is not owned by us, but we will have a relationship to service one another."

The Gardens is "inundated" with referrals, she said. Assisted living and skilled nursing units are 98 percent full and the Alzheimer's section is 100 percent full.

Mitchell said The Gardens works with Lynne Steiger at Mohave County Community Development and Job Service, plus Mohave Community College nursing director Linda Riesdorph in a community collaboration to train people to care for the elderly and disabled. The partnership enhances the quality of life for them.

Brian Turney, chief executive officer at Kingman Regional Medical Center, was contacted about the planned retirement center and possible implications it may have on hospital staffing.

"I don't think it will have a significant impact on us," he said. "The type of personnel that would work there vs. the hospital is usually a little different.

"I don't think they'll need significant numbers of registered nurses and those they do bring in will work in non-acute care settings. We have a different mix for RNs here and I don't have any concerns."

KRMC employs over 200 RNs, but could use another 10-20, Turney said.

The hospital had 165 in-patients at one point over the winter, up by 25 from the previous winter. That prompted the human resources department to bring in temporary help.

KRMC is increasing compensation for nurses to make pay competitive with other hospitals and striving to improve its work environment.

"We have over 50 people on scholarships going to school for training," Turney said. "In turn, they give us a two-year work commitment, so that program is a good source of nurses.

"In addition, our board approved core staff meeting certain requirements in which each one receives a $2,000 bonus this year and next year. That is targeted to retention of RNs."