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For the week of July 24 - 30, 2002


Blaine Manor seeks $400,000 subsidy

"We need a much more comprehensive plan to take care of our aging population."

FAUS GEIGER-CORLETT, Blaine Manor director of development

Express Staff Writer

As Blaine County’s fiscal 2003 budget process gets under way, taxpayers are again being asked to spend approximately $400,000 to help fund the Blaine Manor nursing home.

The home, formerly part of the old Wood River Medical Center, began operating independently when St. Luke’s hospital was completed in fall 2000. The county has been subsidizing its operations for the two years since.

Gail Goglia, the home’s administrator, said it has used $260,000 of county funds so far this year, and will probably need about $80,000 more. In a fiscal 2003 budget presented to the county commissioners on July 17, a budget shortfall of about $394,000 was projected. Total expenses are projected to be $1.8 million.

Goglia said she expects a subsidy similar to that requested for next year to be necessary into the indefinite future.

"With a 25-bed nursing home, we’re not big enough to spread our fixed costs," she said in an interview. "It will continue to be a problem until we get a bigger facility or something happens with Medicare or Medicaid."

A study by a consultant to identify community long-term care needs and determine the feasibility of expansion was scheduled to be presented to the county commissioners Tuesday night.

Backed by about 25 supporters at the July 17 budget meeting, Goglia told the commissioners that Blaine Manor provides its patients top-quality care for as little money as possible.

"We’ve squeezed and squeezed and squeezed the best we can," she said about the home’s expenses.

Commissioner Sarah Michael expressed skepticism that all avenues of cost cutting had been explored.

"I love the level of care," she said, "but I’m concerned about the impact on the taxpayers."

In April, Michael commissioned a study by nursing-home consultants Eden & Associates of Wilson, Wyo., to look at possible cost-cutting measures. Among other things, the study concluded that Blaine Manor could cut staffing and reduce food costs. The study pointed out that a 45-bed Marriott nursing home has the equivalent of 38 full-time employees per week while the 25-bed Blaine Manor has 32 employees. Blaine Manor’s budget request for next year includes funding for 35 employees.

"Without some justification as to why those people are needed, I just can’t support that budget," Michael said in an interview.

The study also pointed out that Blaine Manor’s food cost is much higher than the industry standard.

Commissioner Mary Ann Mix contended that the study was not a fair comparison because Marriott, a large corporation, can buy in bulk. Goglia added that Marriott’s size also enables it to have centralized administration and accounting.

Blaine Manor’s fiscal 2003 budget includes an average 3 percent increase in salaries, based on merit. Salaries make up about 71 percent of the budget.

Insurance costs are expected to rise from a projected $17,000 in 2002 to $52,500. Goglia said that is being driven by a "crisis" in malpractice liability, fueled partly by insurance expenses incurred over the World Trade Center attack.

Goglia also told the commissioners that she expects drug costs to rise 7.5 percent, food costs 5.5 percent and utilities 10 percent.

Last fall, a Blaine Manor Foundation was created to raise money for the facility. Its efforts so far have been minimal, however, pending the results of the new study, said the home’s director of development, Faus Geiger-Corlett.

"This is when the fund-raising will start," she said, "when there is a plan and the community says, ‘Yes, let’s do this thing.’"

Geiger-Corlett said the 65-and-older age group is Blaine County’s fastest growing population.

"We need a much more comprehensive plan to take care of our aging population," she said.


The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.