Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Safe Haven, county hit hurdle

Penalty provision could threaten contract deadline

Express Staff Writer

    Disagreement over enforcement provisions has created a stumbling block to Blaine County and Safe Haven Healthcare’s plan to have a service agreement signed by July 23.
    The private company is building an 80-bed senior-care facility in Bellevue that would include skilled-nursing services now provided by Blaine Manor in Hailey.
    During a county commissioners meeting Tuesday, Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Tim Graves said that when the two sides met the day before, Safe Haven CEO Scott Burpee objected to an automatic penalty provision in the agreement. The provision would subject Safe Haven to a monetary penalty if its level of care dropped below a three-star rating from the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. The agency issues annual ratings of between one and five stars to facilities that receive the federal payments.
    “His view is that it’s out of his control,” Graves said. “If we require a [rated] standard of care, it’s going to be a real sticking point moving forward.”
    Graves said Burpee had proposed that Safe Haven be required to notify the county if its rating falls below a certain level, and be required to take steps toward remedying that.
    However, Commissioners Angenie McCleary and Jacob Greenberg, the only two present at the meeting, objected to removing all monetary penalties.
    “When do you actually say there’s this slap on the wrist and it means money?” Commissioner Jacob Greenberg said. “We need to find a place where it’s suitable to put that in there.”
    Linda Haavik, vice chair of the Blaine Manor board of trustees, suggested that Safe Haven might accept an automatic penalty provision if there were a time frame included to remedy problems that resulted in a lower rating. Greenberg agreed, and Graves said he would continue to work on language acceptable to both parties.
In related developments at the meeting:
l Construction project manager David Hennessy said demolition at the site in Bellevue should be done by the end of this week and that construction would be begin immediately after.
l Blaine Manor interim Administrator Stephanie Jaskowski said the facility’s staff had met with Burpee and Safe Haven administrators on Monday. She said Burpee assured everyone that their salaries would remain the same after the transition to the new facility, but that Safe Haven was still putting together a benefits package.
    “The staff is very impressed with the Safe Haven team,” Jaskowski said.

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