Wednesday, November 16, 2011
Gracedale Will Cost $1.6 Million Less, Says New Manager
How will it do this? Primarily, by increasing the census from 591 on November 15 to 638 residents next year, giving the nursing facility an additional $1.1 million in revenue. The rest of the savings will come from $500,000 in as yet unidentified cuts.
A dubious Council grilled Interim Administrator Dave Holland whether this would be possible. While conceding that the Lehigh Valley is an increasingly competitive market, Holland suggested that placing a nurse liaison at local hospitals would bring in new residents. He would attempt to attract Medicare, as opposed to Medicaid patients, which are more profitable. But Council members questioned whether that would defeat the whole point of keeping Gracedale in County hands.
"We are the court of last resort," noted Mike Dowd.
Council Prez. John Cusick questioned whether increasing census would automatically lead to additional revenue. "Filling beds is a slogan, not a solution," he scoffed.
But Holland suggested there were other revenue-enhancing possibilities to consider as well, from a Dialysis Unit with a smaller provider to a Generational Unit.for younger people in need of nursing care as a result of traumatic injuries.
Holland also proposed reducing workers compensation claims with a Wellness Employee Health Clinic, to educate workers on ways to avoid injury on the job.
Though the budget for Gracedale might be reduced next year, there won't be a reduction in John Stoffa's proposed 9.3% tax hike because Council must appropriate an additional $2.9 million for Gracedale in 2010. "The taxpayers have said we will spend money for Gracedale," Stoffa argued.
Although Holland never identified the $500,000 in cost savings proposed, he indicated that staffing is "under review."
When Ron Angle noted that Holland won't be able to do much about the benefits in the union contracts, Holland agreed. "We're playing the hand we're dealt. No question about that."
Human Services Director Ross Marcus stated there would be no new union contract this year. Peg Ferraro warned him, "I am not voting for that union contract unless it has some reasonable concessions."
While praising Holland for his cost saving proposals, Angle doubts "anybody can ever get this to break even unless you're in la la land and wave magic wands."