Special meeting will focus on nursing home futureThe St. Croix County Health and Human Services Board will conduct a special meeting to discuss “next steps” in the future of the Health Center nursing home. At its regular meeting Monday, the HHS Board set a meeting for 8:30 a.m. on Monday, Oct. 29, to discuss how to proceed with plans for a possible new nursing home facility.
By: Jeff Holmquist, Hudson Star-Observer
The St. Croix County Health and Human Services Board will conduct a special meeting to discuss “next steps” in the future of the Health Center nursing home.
At its regular meeting Monday, the HHS Board set a meeting for 8:30 a.m. on Monday, Oct. 29, to discuss how to proceed with plans for a possible new nursing home facility. The St. Croix County Board voted last week to keep the facility open and to pursue the construction of a new building.
Chairman Fred Horne said the committee needs to jump-start discussion about what to do next. In order to construct a new facility, the county would likely have to approve bonding for the project. It’s unclear if there is enough support among county board supervisors to gain bonding approval.
In other discussion before the HHS Board, the preliminary 2013 budget was outlined.
According to HHS Fiscal Administrator Deb Suchla, the losses generated by the nursing home operation have slowed in recent months, improving the financial outlook for the facility. The nursing home is still expected to require at least $333,000 in county levy support for 2013 in order to break even.
According to HHS Director Fred Johnson, budget projections show a significant decrease in nursing home revenues next year as the average census is expected to decline. To help minimize the nursing home’s drain on county tax dollars, Johnson said it looks likely that wage and benefit concessions of about $225,000 will be required of nursing home employees.
Another area of savings discussed is the hiring of a half-time administrator for the nursing home. Because the facility is now at 50 licensed beds, the state only requires a part-time administrator. This past year the county has contracted with a consulting service for full-time administrative help.
In other discussion, concern about dropping revenue for the St. Croix Industries budget was outlined. State reimbursement levels for vocational services for adults with disabilities have dropped significantly in recent months, forcing the New Richmond-based program to dip into its reserves.
According to Johnson, if state reimbursement levels don’t increase, the program would have to use about half of its $500,000 reserve fund to continue services to clients in 2013.
There is hope for the program, he said, because the managed care organization which establishes reimbursement levels in this part of the state is going out of business.
St. Croix Industries Director Clark Schroeder said when a new MCO is selected for St. Croix County, officials will attempt to negotiate higher reimbursement levels so programs will not be negatively impacted.
Johnson said the proposed budget would eventually head to the St. Croix County Board for consideration. He warned that there is “only so much local levy available” and final budget numbers may be different from the proposal.