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Nursing home board sees progress, worries about rumors, bad press

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

McCOOK, Nebraska -- Hillcrest Board of Trustees members commended nursing home staff for pulling together in what has become a stressful time for everyone involved in the county owned nursing home. During a regularly scheduled meeting, Tuesday evening, board members also expressed frustration with recent news reports and rumors that had some staff members unnecessarily questioning their job security and worried that paychecks might not be received.

"It's definitely a cash flow problem, not that we're broke," said interim administrator for Hillcrest Nursing Home, Jerry Rothmeyer. Rothmeyer explained that the claim request to county commissioners earlier in the week was done as a precaution and "in reality, we don't need it, here is your check back," said Rothmeyer, motioning to County Commissioner Vesta Dack.

Rothmeyer said that revenue had come in Monday that left the nursing home only $14,000-$15,000 short of their payroll needs and he expected funds to cover that amount to arrive Wednesday.

Board members expressed their concern with the amount of press the issue received and board president Jim Hall said he was notified by Red Willow County Attorney Paul Wood at 7 a.m. Monday that an 8 a.m. emergency meeting had been called, because Hillcrest could not make its payroll.

Rothmeyer apologized for not informing the board sooner and said the scenario developed at the last minute, adding that his first priority was making certain payroll would be made.

Board member Randy Dean expressed frustration with the situation by saying "We are not using county money, everyone is acting like we are busting the county, we're not."

Red Willow County Commissioner Vesta Dack responded to Dean that it was, indeed, county money -- "if you don't pay it back the county is responsible," she said.

Board President Jim Hall summarized the situation by saying it basically took $450,000 per month to keep Hillcrest functioning and the month of June reflected $239,000 in revenue, "until we get back to the $450,000 to $500,000 range we are not going to be out of this rut."

Dack assured board members that county commissioners supported them and so did the people of the county, "The county is behind you, no doubt about it but the black line has to meet the red line," said Dack.

Board member Jim Howard commented that county residents put elected individuals in a position to do a job, "they elected you so they should trust you," Howard said.

Dack didn't disagree, but responded that the nursing home would need to be more conservative with its spending in the future, "if you don't have $100 you don't spend $100. The county is on that same string. It's what we have to do in order for people to be treated fairly on their taxes," said Dack.

Dack said that until the county was paid back commissioners would want to see more financial statements and detailed payroll information such as what was requested during Monday's commissioner meeting.

Dack also mentioned concerns that had been raised recently about the Hillcrest Foundation. Dack said commissioners had been unable to get answers to questions such as when the Hillcrest Foundation was founded, by whom and for what purpose. She said Red Willow County Attorney Paul Wood was checking into the legality of the foundation and interactions with the county in money affairs, specifically with the scenario of the foundation owing the county money.

"This all came to light because of your situation and idea of knowing everything about Hillcrest," said Dack, adding that transparency was an issue and no one seemed to be able to provide financial figures for the foundation.

"It is a mess your in, but your digging out," said Dack, adding that the nursing home staff should be made aware of how hard the board members had been fighting for them.

Board members thanked Dack and the other county commissioners for their support in getting through the crisis and commended Director of Nursing Deb Stoney for her recent efforts in keeping morale up with nursing home staff.

Stoney said she was really pleased with how her staff had pulled together, "the people that are here love Hillcrest," said Stoney.

It was decided during the meeting that an all staff meeting should be coordinated in the near future to increase communication to employees and help eliminate some of the misinformation that may be out there.

The nursing home is also hopeful an open house, scheduled for Sept. 13, 2012, from 3-6 p.m. will help create excitement in the community for some of the recent renovations to the facility.

Rothmeyer recapped with the board the June financial report, noting that the income shortfalls on the report were largely due to reduced medicare revenue. Rothmeyer praised the efforts of his accounting department for their diligent work on reducing the accounts receivable problems that have spun the county owned facility into the spotlight recently.

Business office manager Renee Fritz said they were nearly caught up on rectifying the businesses billing issues. "I am very comfortable this is the true picture," said Fritz in reference to an accounts receivable report that reflected an outstanding balance in excess of $700,000 owed to the nursing home.

The board approved a request from Fritz to write off a bad debt in the amount of $3,897. The item was from a 2011 billing and according to Fritz Hillcrest staff had spent excessive hours attempting to resolve the billing issue, with Medicare representatives failing to uphold their commitments to assist or identify what the hold-up was on reimbursing for the item.

Pricing for the nine private suites that have been remodeled from two-bedroom rooms as part of the ongoing construction and remodel project was announced during the meeting. The private suite room pricing was approved by the board to be set at an average of $20 per day higher than the standard private rooms. Basic room rates for private rooms are $182 per day and the private suites will be $202 per day.

Hillcrest Nursing Home Board of Trustees president Jim Hall said they were pushing to have the rooms available for occupancy as soon as possible but sanitizing the rooms and other items still needed to be addressed.

Toward the end of the meeting board members entered executive session to bring department heads up to date on budget and personnel issues.

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It's good that the nursing home directors and managers are concerned about making sure their nursing home is properly funded and well taken care of. I've been reading a recent list of nursing home deficiencies here:


And it's surprising the kinds of neglectful things that occur in nursing homes, so it's good to see someone is paying attention.

-- Posted by drls on Wed, Jul 25, 2012, at 3:15 PM

Is anyone else confused? Why would anyone want to donate funds to the Hillcrest Foundation to build a chapel at the nursing home when the taxpayers are already bailing them out of this mess? I would think the Foundation members would have the grace and respect towards their taxpayers NOT to ask for additional donations during this time.

-- Posted by Rural Citizen on Fri, Jul 27, 2012, at 8:01 AM

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