“What really drew me to this business is that I have a continuity of patients and long-lasting professional relationships,” said Faia Stevenson, owner of Better Options Ventilator Care Adult Family Home.
Stevenson founded Better Options in 2001 as a residential nursing facility for adults, but saw a need for specialized ventilator care and has been doing just that since 2008. Better Options has since become a well-respected niche residential care facility for patients from across the country. The adult home provides hospital-level ventilator care, advanced nursing staff and state-of-the-art medical equipment including two bariatric-equipped rooms.
“We call the patients ‘residents,’” Stevenson noted. “Most of them live a normal, fulfilling life and then in the middle of a normal life, there is a tragedy or disease that strikes them and now they want to continue this life to the degree of capability.”
Stevenson described Better Options as an alternative to typical institutions where ventilator-bound patients live. The company’s main goal, she said, is to provide top-level medical care alongside companionship via long-term relationships with caregivers.
Better Options has one registered nurse and one certified nursing assistant present at all hours; some have been with Better Options for five to seven years.
“This is why Better Options has really stood out,” Stevenson said. “The residents have developed bonded relationships with the caregivers, nurses and therapists, which is not like nursing homes where there is a huge turnaround with staff.”
This innovative approach to long-term ventilator care has created what Stevenson called her “number one challenge” – a lengthy waiting list to get in. In response to that demand, Better Options recently opened a second facility, called Rite Choice Adult Family Home. Between the two locations, the company is licensed for a total occupancy of 12 patients.
However, with calls of interest coming in from across the nation, that still won’t be enough to accommodate demand.
“This is why I have opened the second facility, which originally I didn’t plan to open, but there is a real need for this kind of care,” she said.
An RN with a bachelor’s degree in nursing from WSU Vancouver, Stevenson was a pediatrician in the Soviet Union before immigrating to the United States 20 years ago. The healthcare system, she explained, works differently over there.
“We do house calls [in Eastern Europe],” she said. “You know the family. You see the kids growing. You know a bit of the dynamics. You have a relationship.”
Stevenson initially worked in hospitals here and felt that the pressure to see more new patients every day caused patient-to-physician relationships to suffer long-term.
“But here [at Better Options], I can see the residents getting better and getting happier,” she said. “We celebrate holidays and birthdays. It’s a very close community.”
The original Better Options home is located in a residential neighborhood (15214 NE 25th Cir.) and has six private bedrooms, four cats, three dogs an organic garden and a 24/7 medical staff. The new location (adjacent to the original home) boasts the same setup.
Stevenson endeavors to create a safe environment for residents, both physically and emotionally.
“[Residents] have complex medical issues here like a brain injury, or Lou Gehrig’s disease,” she explained, “but they also have emotional issues. They left behind families, their homes, their wives, parents, and now they live here. So we are striving to provide them with a quality of life.”
Another Better Options key differential is on-site treatment. Patients regularly receive visits from physical therapists, primary care doctors, psychotherapists, psychiatrists and even a pulmonologist.
“Having visiting physicians is just a huge deal,” Stevenson said. “Being transported to doctor’s appointments, besides a huge cost, is also a traumatic event.”
Better Options has become the best option for many, when the alterative would be life in a hospital bed or institution.
“Most of [the residents] are coming to spend the rest of their lives in this facility,” Stevenson said. “Overall I am very thankful because here, the families are happy and they (the residents) are happy.”