Renovations to help Pathways Nursing and Rehab in Niskayuna

Occupational therapy department on the first floor at Pathways Nursing and Rehabilitation, 1805 Providence Ave., Niskayuna.
Occupational therapy department on the first floor at Pathways Nursing and Rehabilitation, 1805 Providence Ave., Niskayuna.
NISKAYUNA — Jeff Ruso will breath easier once renovations are complete at Pathways Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in town.

“We are the most clinically complex nursing facility, the only ventilated-certified nursing home in the Capital Region,” said Ruso, Pathways’ administrator. “The ventilator patients cannot breathe on their own, they are on a machine.”

The renovation to-do list includes a remodeled pediatric unit, traumatic brain injury unit, triple the ventilator capabilities, new lobby, and new common areas.

“At the end of the project we’ll have 24 certified ventilator beds,” Ruso said. “We have more than 24 ventilator patients because we have a pediatric wing. The pediatric wing brings forth various clinical diagnoses for children including ventilator dependency. So I have ventilator patients for the 24, the adults and the pediatric has 36 patients, as of which 20 of them are ventilator dependent. So we’re running about 44 and it fluctuates.

“Our goal is get them in, get them better and get them home,” Ruso added.

Before, there were only eight ventilator facilities for adults.

Ruso said adults need the machines for treatment of Lou Gehrig’s Disease (also known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, ALS), motor vehicle accidents, severe brain injuries, and severe lung problems.

Some cases involve premature births. Ruso said these infants’ lungs are not developed well enough to let the babies breathe on their own.

“We had a young lady who came to us from the hospital, never went home, born at 24 weeks,” Ruso said. “She came here after she was born and was here 2 1/2 years before we were able to wean her. She’s gone home.”

Ruso said the new ventilator beds are sorely needed. Pathways wanted to add more, the state Health Department wanted the facility to increase ventilator capacity.

“This is a very much under-served area for ventilator patients,” Ruso said. “We had eight beds … other communities have dozens and dozens of beds. The Capital Region had eight.”

Once the Health Department approved Pathways’ certificate of need, and construction work received the green light, plans were made.

“In order for us to have those 24 [ventilator] beds, we had to move a lot of offices and the patient care program from the second floor to here, on the first floor,” Ruso said.

“The renovations are going to give us almost an entire unit of private rooms,” Ruso added. “Out of the 36 beds, we’re going to have 34 private rooms and one semi-private room. It gives more privacy for the families, a little more room for the families and the equipment certainly. It gives better accommodations to the individual.”

Oxygen capacity has been expanded.
“Most nursing homes do not have piped-in oxygen into the wall, certainly with the expanded ventilator we had to upgrade that,” Ruso said. “There’s certainly a lot of electrical service that had to be changed.”
Visitors whose family members are patients at Pathways have welcomed the renovations.
“We love them, for every reason,” said Beverly Mandzy of Ballston Spa, whose daughter Jennie has been a patient for the past nine years. “It’s uplifting for all the patients and the families who visit.”
The nursing facility opened in September 1989 as Hilltop Manor. It became Northwoods at Hilltop in 2000.
By 2008, the nursing home was on a government watch list for persistent deficiencies. In late 2008, the Department of Health cited the facility for medication errors and lack of care that resulted in “actual harm” to residents.
Officials said the incidents took place a few months before the arrival of new management in December 2008.
Ruso said Pathways is now privately owned by Ben Philipson of Brooklyn, who purchased the business in 2010 and owns other nursing facilities.
Ruso stressed that Pathways is a place for people with serious medical conditions.
“I’d prefer your family never have to come,” he said, “but on the other hand, if your family ever needs a place, thank goodness it’s here. I don’t want anyone’s kid here. I hate seeing some of these kids here, I really do.”

Ruso hopes all renovations are complete by this fall — in time for the facility’s 30th anniversary.

Contact Gazette reporter Jeff Wilkin at 518-395-3124 or at [email protected]


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