Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Roadmap set for senior care transition

Stakeholders asked to weigh in with concerns

Express Staff Writer

Safe Haven Health Care, the company seeking to assume management of Blaine Manor, already operates seven facilities across the state, including one assisted-living center in Wendell, above. Courtesy photo

Blaine County commissioners agreed Tuesday morning on a roadmap that will guide the process of transitioning senior care management from the county to a private Pocatello-based company.

The board decided last week to turn over senior care management to Safe Haven Health Care, a company with seven facilities that provide skilled nursing and assisted living to seniors across the state.

The company plans to build an assisted-living and skilled-nursing facility in Bellevue that would eventually encompass 80 assisted-living and skilled-nursing beds. Safe Haven CEO Scott Burpee said he plans to take over operations of county-funded Blaine Manor at the end of fiscal 2013 and assume all the facility’s losses until Safe Haven’s planned Bell Mountain facility in Bellevue can be completed in late spring or early summer of 2014.

He said he plans to transfer all Blaine Manor patients from Hailey to his new facility, as well as most of the staff if they choose to work for his company. In return, he proposed that Blaine Manor’s skilled-nursing-facility license and Medicare/Medicaid certification be transferred to the Bell Mountain facility. The transfer would allow Burpee to take on skilled-nursing patients using Medicare or Medicaid immediately, rather than waiting until up to a year after the new facility opens to obtain state certification.

But the process of turning over Blaine Manor to Safe Haven while ensuring that all parties are satisfied is a process that is likely to take months, County Commissioner Larry Schoen said Tuesday.

“The board made a significant decision last week to transition skilled nursing from Blaine Manor to Safe Haven, and that entails a number of steps,” he said.

County Administrator Derek Voss said he has developed a plan for the transition process that will allow all involved parties to address issues or concerns that they have throughout the changeover.

Entities such as the Blaine Manor board, Safe Haven staff, the county commissioners and the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare’s Bureau of Facility Standards will all be given the chance to form a list of “activities,” or tasks they believe need to be done, by whom and by when.

Those lists will then be given to Voss and County Commissioner Jacob Greenberg, who volunteered to serve as the board’s point person for the transition process. The two will consolidate the lists and develop a timeline for the process along with a set of deadlines.

Voss said designating one point person from the board was necessary because any time two or more commissioners get together to discuss an issue, it is considered a quorum and requires a public meeting. 

Voss said he would value working with a commissioner to ensure that he is carrying out the board’s intent, and Schoen clarified that Greenberg and Voss did not have the authority to make any decisions, merely to present or do research on possible solutions.

“It’s not a decision-making role,” he said. “It’s a review [role], a fact-checking and presentation-type role. The decisions are made here, and everyone understands that.”

Commissioner Angenie McCleary said Voss and Greenberg should develop a communications strategy for keeping the public and stakeholders informed throughout the process.

“I want to be aware as a board member and the public needs to be aware of what is being done,” McCleary said.

The due date for the activity lists will be March 12. The goal date for Safe Haven’s takeover of the Blaine Manor facility is Oct. 1, the beginning of the next fiscal year. Voss said the county’s involvement with Blaine Manor will likely stretch beyond that, as the county will still own the facility.

“[Oct. 1] is a big date, but it’s probably not the end,” he said.



Manor funding set for 2013

An auditor with Dingus, Zarecor and Associates in Spokane Valley, Wash., said Blaine Manor had enough money on hand as of Sept. 20, 2012, to operate for 438 more days with anticipated revenue.

Tom Dingus presented an audit of Blaine County finances to the county commissioners Tuesday morning, stating that Blaine Manor’s cash balance at the end of fiscal 2012 was about $1.3 million, enough to pay its expenses for almost 200 days without any further revenue.

“If no more cash [had come] in the door, you could pay your expenses for 194 days,” he said, adding that if revenues continue in fiscal 2013 at the same level as 2012, the manor will be on course to continue operations for an additional 244 days.

“Based on that assumption, your cash will get you through the end of fiscal year 2013,” he said—and beyond, nearly to the end of the calendar year.

The audit also showed that 6 percent of Blaine Manor patients paid through Medicare and 58 percent paid through Medicaid. The balance of patients were private pay.

Dingus said patient days were down by 15 percent from 2011 to 2012. That resulted in a slight decrease in expenses and staffing, but only a 10 percent decrease in revenue as reimbursement rates rose slightly.

Blaine Manor board Vice Chair Linda Haavik said during the meeting that census numbers might drop further if decisions regarding transitioning patients and staff from Blaine Manor management to Safe Haven management are not made quickly.

“They won’t know what’s going on,” she said. “The longer it takes us to get answers to residents, prospective residents and families, I fear we are going to start losing census and staff.”

Kate Wutz:

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