Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Consider nonprofit senior care

Blaine County citizens should be allowed to vote on the bond proposal for the Croy Canyon Ranch Continuing Care Retirement Community. This type of multi-level care community will benefit us all.

As a health lawyer, I have both professional and personal experience with many types of health-care facilities. I observed the superior care provided to patients in nonprofit facilities as a state health department lawyer in California for five years, followed by 26 years as in-house counsel for the Intermountain Healthcare system in Utah.

The for-profit facilities were constantly pressured to cut costs so they could increase profits for owners and shareholders, particularly real estate investors who were often distant "absentee" corporations. Conversely, the nonprofit providers focused on their core mission of providing high-quality care with community involvement and oversight through local governing boards.

My personal experience was with an Iowa nonprofit continuing-care community that my parents moved to. My father, who had Alzheimer's disease, had previously lived for three years in a for-profit skilled nursing facility where he received little stimulation and increasingly showed signs of depression and decline.

After their move, my mother lived in an apartment and my father received 24-hour care in the "memory care" unit. While the staffing level in the memory unit appeared comparable to the for-profit facility, the personal attention and engagement of the dedicated staff brought about surprising improvement in my father. His medications were reduced, his outlook improved and he lived five more years. My mother, who later died of cancer, was able to stay in her apartment due to the coordination of the levels of care culminating with hospice.

There is ample evidence to support the superior performance of nonprofit health-care facilities. Please ensure better care for Blaine County seniors by supporting the bond proposal for Croy Canyon Ranch.

Jane Reister Conard

Sun Valley

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