Joe Fischer named Food Service Director


Joe Fischer jokes that he grew up in a nursing home.

The son of a single mom who worked as an aide in a nursing home, Fischer spent his early years surrounded by the love and attention of “50 different grandmothers” (when he wasn’t chatting with staff in the break room).

Later, when his family owned Edna’s Country Kitchen in Parkdale, he was immersed in the kitchen. “I’ve always been cooking,” he says.

As an adult, he combined these two foundations — seniors and cooking — into a career. After serving nearly three years as a cook at Columbia Basin Care, Joe Fischer was recently named Food Service Director. He replaces Jill Lindstrand who has relocated to Texas.

Located in The Dalles, Columbia Basin Care is the region’s only non-profit, community-owned, skilled rehabilitation and nursing facility. It is home to over 60 residents and employs nearly 100 people.

Fischer has worked throughout the Columbia River Gorge region, including 15 years as a CNA/CMA, and eight years with Heart of Hospice. In addition, he is a certified administrator for Assisted Living Facilities/Resident Care Facilities.

With his background, Joe is naturally drawn to improving the lives of others.

“I’ll always be an advocate for the Resident,” he says, “and will talk to the Doctor and Dietitian to find the nutrition and diet best suited to each person.”

Joe was born in Denver, Colorado, and raised in Parkdale, Oregon. He and his wife, Becki, have three children (Rhianna, Kaleena and Tristan) and three dogs (two boxers and a dachshund).



Making Sense of Medicare & Medicaid


Navigating medical costs and coverage can be confusing. Need some guidance? Let this overview steer you through:

Medicare and Medicaid are two separate government programs created in 1965 by President Lyndon Johnson as part of a social commitment to meeting individual health care needs.

Medicare is the federal government’s health insurance program for people age 65 or older, and those with severe disabilities. Medicare covers some services in a nursing facility. Medicare does not cover long-term care costs.

Medicare has several parts:

Part A helps pay for:

  • Hospital Care
  • Skilled Nursing or Rehabilitation Care (in a skilled nursing facility)
  • Home Health Care
  • Hospice Care

Part A provides up to 100 days per year in a skilled nursing facility if you have a 3-day qualifying stay in a hospital and require services meeting the definition of “skilled” in the Medicare guidelines. Part A pays 100% for days 1-20; there is a co-pay for days 21-100. Most Medicare co-insurance plans pay the co-pay.

Part B is an optional medical insurance for which you pay a monthly premium that covers many outpatient services. Part B insurance primarily covers outpatient services but may cover some services while a person is a Resident in a nursing facility. For example, someone who does not have a 3-day hospital stay prior to admission and is “private pay” for their room & board, can have therapy services billed under Part B.

Part C is known as Medicare Advantage, or private insurance. The cost of Advantage plans varies by carrier, county of residence, and plan selected. To enroll in a Part C plan, you must first be enrolled in both Parts A and B.  Medicare Part C is voluntary.  Many people prefer traditional Medicare supplements and do not want a Part C Medicare Advantage plan.

Part D covers prescription drugs when you choose a carrier and enroll in their drug plan. Most states have many plans to choose from and people often work with an agent to navigate the many options.

Medicaid is a public insurance program providing health care coverage to low-income families and individuals, including children, parents, pregnant women, seniors, and people with disabilities; it is funded by the state and federal government.

Each state operates its own Medicaid program within federal guidelines. Because the federal guidelines are broad, states have a great deal of flexibility in designing and administering their programs. As a result, Medicaid eligibility and benefits often vary widely from state to state.

Medicaid does not provide health care directly. Instead, it pays hospitals, doctors, nursing homes, managed care plans, and other health care providers for covered services that they deliver to eligible patients. (Health care providers are not required to participate in Medicaid, and not all do.)

  • Medicaid covers more than 60 percent of all nursing home residents and 40 percent of costs for long-term care services and supports.
  • Medicaid provides health coverage for one in five Americans, or 97 million low-income Americans annually.
  • Many of those on Medicaid are middle class individuals who spent all of their savings on care before becoming eligible.


We’re happy to help you walk through the process and coverage of your skilled facility needs. Our Executive Director and Social Services Director are happy to answer your questions. Feel free to call or drop in. Columbia Basin Care is located at 1015 Webber St in The Dalles, Oregon,  541.296.2156. 



The Pleasure of Plants



George likes to get his hands dirty. Digging deep into potting soil, he and other residents at Columbia Basin Care are making a home for small indoor plants, and boosting their own health and happiness too.

While many residents enjoy our outdoor raised-bed gardens, some prefer the cooler climate and less strenuous activity of tending to house plants. Indoor gardening offers many of the same benefits.

jean-plantingnorm-plantingbobbie-plantingResearch indicates that planting and tending to growing things is especially good for those with dementia and depression. As with pets and children, plants teach us how to be attentive and responsive to the needs of others, which improves our levels of empathy and compassion. The activity also exercises cognitive and motor skills.

Studies show that indoor plants improve air quality by filtering toxins that get trapped indoors, which can improve air quality.  That, in turn, can lower the risk of respiratory disorders, as well as chronic headaches and eye irritation.

Best, and perhaps most simply, a healthy house plant provides a sense of beauty and accomplishment.