We Like Visitors!

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Want to brighten a day? Visit us!

We love special guests and visitors of all ages. Please drop by for a one-time visit, a weekly call, or a monthly event. Just a bit of your time and attention makes a big difference.

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AT PLAY: Youngsters from the neighborhood preschool visit Columbia Basin Care each week.

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SING A SONG: Hardshell Harmony brings musical cheer to Columbia Basin Care.

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SUNNY DAYS: A small child brings big smiles to residents and staff at Columbia Basin Care.


STAR POWER: Pianist Rule Beasley and singer Lloyd Walworth entertain residents and staff.

A Note of Thanks

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letter from residentWe love letters.

This one is from a resident who recently returned home:

“I’d like to give special thanks for good care from nurses like Pat, and all the rest that I do not know names, and all the therapy people that helped me so much with my exercises that I really needed. . . I give special thanks to Alesia O’Brien for the way she is helping the people with entertainment in all ways. It helped me pass the time. I enjoyed all the activities very much. . . .

Good job everyone. Thank you very much.”



For Profit. Not-for-Profit. What’s the Difference?

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Quick question: You’re choosing a nursing home for someone you love. Do you pick an independent non-profit facility, or a large for-profit chain?

What you choose can make a big difference.

Studies show not-for-profit nursing homes offer higher quality of care. An analysis of 82 studies comparing quality of care in for-profit and not-for-profit nursing facilities reported that nearly all the studies found higher quality, higher staffing, and fewer pressure sores in not-for-profit facilities.

The thorough review involved thousands of U.S. nursing homes and compared quality-of-care measurements in 82 individual studies that collected data from 1965 to 2003.

“The results are unequivocal and completely consistent with other studies comparing for-profit versus nonprofit care,” said Dr. Gordon Guyatt, author of the study, and a leader in evidence-based medicine.

This is good news for not-for-profit facilities such as Columbia Basin Care in The Dalles, but bad news for people living in areas with limited choices in facilities. In the U.S., nearly all nursing homes — 70 percent — are for-profit facilities, according to the Center for Disease Control.

In Oregon that number is even higher: 80 percent of nursing homes operate as for-profit facilities, with just 17 percent operating as not-for-profits, and 3 percent government-owned.

At the same time, Oregon’s elderly population is growing rapidly. By 2030, the number of people over age 85 — the age group most likely to need long-term care services — is expected to grow 66 percent.

Columbia Basin Care, located in The Dalles, is the region’s only community-owned, not-for-profit skilled nursing facility. Founded in 1964, Columbia Basin Care has served the community for over 50 years and employs over 80 people.

The long-term care facility is run by a volunteer Board of Directors, comprised of individuals who live and work in The Dalles. Aidan Health Services, a management company, provides oversight and support. While Wasco County owns the building and grounds, Columbia Basin is an independent compa­ny with local control and decision-making authority. As a non-profit, there are no owners or investors, and funds are dedicated to facility upgrades and staff improvements to increase quality of life for residents.

“This is our community, our neighbors, and our families,” says Valerie Hiveley-Blatz, a geriatric nurse practitioner who serves as primary care provider for residents at Columbia Basin Care. “We get to know and care for every resident on an individual level. Our office is here, so we are able to respond to any need quickly. And every person here, from nurses to aides to the kitchen and housekeeping crew, wants what’s best for the residents.”

Most experts agree that a quality facility is based on staffing levels, and note that for-profit facilities — and particularly large corporate chains — often cut corners to save money and boost profits.

Nurses working in nonprofit nursing homes were significantly more satisfied with their jobs, according to a study of 900 registered nurses working in 300 skilled nursing facilities. A similar study show certified nursing assistants were more satisfied and preferred working in non-profit facilities.

“The for-profits don’t have enough staff,” said Toby Edelman, a senior policy attorney at the Center for Medicare Advocacy. Non-profits, he says, “staff at a higher level, and that’s why their care is generally better.”

Aubree Olmstead, executive director of Columbia Basin Care, acknowledges the gap. “The care and concern for our residents is genuine, and that makes such a difference,” she says.


Paint On!



paint---alesiapaint---canvasPaint Day is one of our most popular activities — bringing residents, nurses, and volunteers together for creative fun.

With the help of staff and volunteers, residents are guided through step-by-step painting instructions, often with stellar results.

Want to join the fun? We’re seeking volunteers to help us find our inner artists.

Discover the joy and fulfillment of working with the elderly. To learn more, drop by or call, 541-296-2156.

Aubree Olmstead named Executive Director


4525-AubreeColumbia Basin Care is happy to welcome Aubree Olmstead as executive director of Columbia Basin Care, the only community-owned, not-for-profit skilled nursing facility in the Columbia River Gorge.

An Oregon native, Olmstead is a graduate of Oregon State University where she earned a degree in Public Health with an emphasis in Health Management and Policy, and a minor in Business.

“I have a passion for geriatrics,” she says. “Long-term care is a critical part of the health system. How we treat our elderly is a direct reflection of who we are, and what we value.”

Born and raised in Hood River, Aubree is happy to return to the Gorge, where she will lead a facility of over 60 residents and more than 80 employees.

“My roots are here,” says Olmstead. “I wanted to return home to make a difference in the community I love.”

Olmstead spent nearly a year immersed in the operations of Columbia Basin Care, gaining first-hand knowledge and critical experience in every aspect of the facility, from food service to billing, nursing to activities, housekeeping to transportation and more.

Olmstead is especially drawn to Columbia Basin’s personal approach. “I get to spend one-on-one time in building relationships with residents, their families, and our staff,” she says. “We get to know each other, and create meaningful connections and experiences.”

Situated on nearly five acres, Columbia Basin is located in the sunny climate of The Dalles, just over an hour east of Portland. Founded in 1964, the facility has been in service to the community for over 50 years.

Columbia Basin Care offers the area’s only on-site geriatric nurse practitioner; Valerie Hiveley-Blatz is an in-house primary care provider, specializing in geriatrics. In addition, a team of on-site, licensed physical, occupational and speech therapists provide comprehensive rehabilitation and restorative services and are equipped with top therapy technology such as the Omni VR (virtual reality), as well as electric, ultrasound and thermal therapy.


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BINGO CALLS: Alesia, Activity Director, leads residents in the game.

Bingo is one of the most popular activities at Columbia Basin Care. It’s in such demand we offer the game three days each week. We play for small prizes and pocket change, but mostly we play to keep the mind sharp and the chance to visit with our neighbors.

And what looks like a breezy game of chance is really an exercise of the mind and body. Through Bingo, residents practice motor skills, eye and hand coordination, visual cues, listening skills — all while boosting social interaction and mood.

Want to get in the game? Volunteers are always welcome. Call or drop by for a visit. We’d love to play a game (or two, or ten!) with you.


BINGO!: Lucille is a winner.

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GET IN THE GAME: Alesia and Ashley keeps the game lighthearted and fun.







Easter Fun


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Easter is for all ages! When it comes to decorating eggs, the heart is young and the hands are able. Residents at Columbia Basin Care enjoy the small actions that trigger memories and deliver joy.

Youngsters Bring Smiles

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sittin pretty - head start coloring w head start kids Columbia Basin Care has been enjoying visits from our next-door neighbors: children from Head Start! Filling the halls with laughter and smiles, these youngsters bring a wonderfully contagious joy. We like visitors! Thank you, Head Start, for brightening our days.

Thriving at 105!


AT 105 YEARS: Matilda Dorland is still a charmer.

By Derek Wiley
The Dalles Chronicle

Matilda Dorland says the key to a long life is positive thinking.

At 105 years old, she would know.

“I don’t have any secrets, just always think positive, never be negative,” Dorland said from her bed at Columbia Basin Care. “Even now with the problems I have, I’m still hoping I’ll be able to go home and maybe become a little independent, you know. I never want to think negative. That doesn’t get you anywhere.”

Up until a couple years ago, Dorland worked in her rose garden and was thrilled when she turned 100 and could ride the Wasco County Transit for free to Fred Meyer to do her own grocery shopping.

But early this year, Dorland suffered a small fracture in her hip, which turned into a spiral. She had surgery in Portland to put the pieces back together.

On Jan. 29, Dorland checked in to Columbia Basin for physical therapy.

According to nursing assistant Beth Chrisman, Dorland’s been a delight.

“We fight to work with Matilda,” Chrisman said. “She’s the sweetest thing ever. I love her so much.”

Dorland was born on Christmas Day, 1910, in Colma, Calif., to an Italian father and American mother. William Howard Taft was president. There have been 17 presidents since.

“I can remember presidents that you don’t even know about,” Dorland told a reporter who was born when Ronald Reagan was in the White House. “[Herbert] Hoover? You remember Hoover? And there’s a lot of others who I remember.”

Dorland said 105 years is enough.

“It’s really too long to live,” she said. “I’m ready to leave this earth anytime. That’s why I took the risk on this surgery. They said it was a serious surgery but I said I’ll do anything. I just want to get it over with and I hope I won’t wake up and I was so surprised when I did.”

While her hearing and sight are in decline, Dorland’s mind is sharp.

“I can remember so much,” Dorland said. “I don’t write my telephone numbers down. I have to memorize all of them because I don’t see well enough. I remember all of my telephone numbers. I remember just about everything that I want to remember.”

As a child, she recalls decorating Christmas trees before there were electric lights.

“We had a Christmas tree every year and in those days we had candles on it,” Dorland said. “It was beautiful. You had to be careful but it was nice. You had little candles and you had to watch that they didn’t catch anything on fire. You had to be sure how you put them on the tree.”

Dorland said she stopped driving in her 90s. Her first car was an Essex.

“They were rough riding but they were alright,” she said. “They weren’t very good looking but they took you where you wanted to go. That was a long time ago.”

Dorland married her husband of over 60 years, Robert, the day after his 18th birthday. She was 19. They lived in a small apartment not far from San Francisco.

Robert was in the U.S. Navy during World War II and Dorland worked in an office while he was away. They never had any children and moved to The Dalles 40 years ago.

“My husband was having heart problems and we thought it would be easier in a mobile home,” Dorland said. “He was an auto mechanic and a machinist. He loved to work on automobiles.”

They had a motor home and would travel to California and Arizona when the weather got cold. They’d go bowling and hiking.

Robert died in 1991.

“We had a wonderful, wonderful life,” Dorland said. “I can’t complain about a thing. My husband was a very talented man. He never had lessons to play music of any kind and he could play the organ. He could play the guitar. He never had lessons to be a carpenter but he built every home we ever lived in.”

Denise Campbell met Dorland over 17 years ago on a Jehovah Witness visit. While the two have different religions—Dorland is Catholic—they became like family.

Campbell calls Dorland her “adopted grandma.”

“She’s so adorable, how can you not love her?” Campbell said. “She has a positive and joyful spirit and a deep love for God. I just never wanted her to ever feel alone. My mom and dad, we all view her as part of the family.”

But Dorland has refused to let Campbell wait on her.

“She didn’t want anyone to do anything for her that she could do herself,” Campbell said. “She finally agreed to let me do her shopping.”

Mia Michel has lived next door to Dorland for 16 years.

“She’s very popular,” Michel said. “She’s a little sweetheart, very generous, never says a mean word about anybody.”

Besides her hips, which were both replaced in the 1980s, Dorland’s had few health problems.

“I never go to doctors unless I have to,” she said. “I don’t care about doctors. The last time I saw my doctor he came to my house and that was quite a few months ago. He said I was alright. He gave me some pain pills. I don’t take any pills either unless I have to. When I’m here [Columbia Basin], I have to do what they tell me.”

Dorland has lived in the same mobile home in Oakwood Estates for more than 40 years.

“In the mobile home court where I live there’s mostly older people, too, in their late 80s and 90s. But one by one they’re dying and I’m still here,” she said.

Once she completes her physical therapy, Dorland wants to return home.

“I would be happy if I could walk again and go home and be independent,” she said. “I have a small mobile home and it’s not hard to take care of. I have a woman that comes in and cleans for me and does my laundry so the biggest things are done. I’m going to keep fighting.”

For now, Columbia Basin Care is happy to have the 105-year-old sweetheart.

“Matilda from the start, the first day she was admitted, was charming everyone,” Marketing Director Drew Myron said.