Nursing home to bid on jail meal service

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

McCOOK, Neb. -- In an effort to drum up revenue, Hillcrest Nursing Home Board of Trustees voted unanimously on two measures Tuesday morning.

At the regular board meeting, trustees voted unanimously to allow Hillcrest Nursing Home to make a bid to the county on providing meals to the Red Willow County Correctional Center. When asked if staff could handle the additional meals, Hillcrest Administrator Colinda Nappa told the board she felt confident that it could, citing extra food sometimes left over from meals at Hillcrest. Although there is a kitchen at the county jail, Nappa indicated meals would be made at Hillcrest and transported to the correctional center using specialized coolers.

Bids are due March 13 and would include three meals a day. Capacity at the jail is 30 beds.

Nappa added that it was her understanding that Hillcrest in the past used to provide meals to county inmates, but the contract was not continued due to "menu stagnation" and poor quality.

In another item, the board split 3 to 2 in adding four rooms to the regular Hillcrest population and decreasing the same number of rooms from the special care unit.

The special care unit at Hillcrest currently has 19 beds for patients with Alzhiemers and dementia. Population in the care unit is not steady, Nappa said, calling it "feast or famine," and for the past year has utilized only eight beds. However, there are six people on the waiting list for regular admission to Hillcrest.

By moving a set of doors, four rooms from the special care unit could instead be designated for the regular population. With two beds in each room, a total of eight beds would become available. At $5,000 per month, per bed, a potential of $40,000 of revenue could realized, Jim Howard noted.

Board members deliberated on whether to designate two instead of four rooms. Board member Ann Barger, in favor of two rooms, cited the increased population of residents with Alzheimers/dementia in the future and was hesitant to take more room out of the special care unit. Fellow board member Mike Eklund also preferred two rooms.

Department heads attending the board meeting voiced their opinion and voiced approval for four rather than two rooms.

Blueprints of the area were given to board members by board president Randy Dean. Board member Jim Howard said he felt comfortable with using four rooms, as there would still be ample room for special care unit residents. He joined board members Dean and Mike Skolout in voting for four instead of two rooms.

Before construction, Nappa will contact the fire marshal for license and code requirements.

Also at Tuesday's meeting, Nappa took issue with a Feb. 7 McCook Gazette article that she felt was misleading and contained "blatant mistruths."

The article in question gave an account of a Red Willow County Commissioner meeting, where commissioners considered removing Randy Dean and Jim Howard from the Hillcrest Board of Trustees. According to the article, after speaking with Dean and Howard, commissioners met with them in a closed emergency session to discuss further personnel. When commissioners re-convened in open session, no action was taken to remove them. Nappa said she felt confidentiality was violated when Dean told commissioners that the board of trustees, in executive session at a Hillcrest board meeting, unanimously voted to remove a Hillcrest employee Carmine Nappa. (The husband of Colinda Nappa.) She also said Howard's comments about not getting financial statements from her was a misrepresentation, that she repeatedly told board members that new software was slowing up the process. It's unethical to breach confidentiality and to not give the full information, she contended.

Dean responded that he answered questions he was asked and that he has "no control over how it's interpreted." He added as far as confidentiality being broken, "Carmine (Nappa) stood up in the open meeting and shared it," referring to the January Hillcrest board meeting, when Carmine Nappa spoke during the public comment portion of the meeting and said he had been fired.

Red Willow County Commissioner Vesta Dack, who attended the Tuesday's meeting as a representative of the county, said the Gazette has always been fair and accurate when reporting county commissioner meetings and stood by the article as written.

Trustee Mike Eklund appeared frustrated by the discussion and finally spoke up. What is shared in executive sessions should stay in executive session, he said, but the board had the choice to "beat each other up in here or learn and move on."

The board evidently chose the latter. It next took up issues concerning Hillcrest Nursing Home Foundation and authorized board trustee Mike Skolout as the Hillcrest representative at foundation meetings, joining the other board representative, Randy Dean.

The board also agreed earlier in the meeting to move Hillcrest board meetings from 10 a.m. to 9 a.m. on the fourth Tuesday of each month and requested that either Red Willow County attorney Paul Wood or assistant county attorney Phil Lyons be present at each meeting.

After the regular meeting, the board met in close executive session for three items listed on the agenda: personnel issues: Colinda Nappa and Amanda Randolph (human resource director); potential litigation: Colinda Nappa; and protection of public interest: Ann Barger (board member).