|Gracedale Administrator Dee Freeman|
The reason for increasing cost is simple. "Our expenses are outpacing increases in revenue every year," he explained. He went on to indicate that a plan, which is still in draft, will soon be released for review by the unions and county Council.
One of the ideas Freeman proposed to save money was implemented by a 8-0 vote of the full Council in its regular meeting later that day. This is the use of a large pool of LPNs and nurse attendants who are paid slightly more than regular workers, but who would only work one or two shifts every month. They are paid no benefits. Freeman explained this would reduce overtime and provide relief for some nurses who are forced into mandatory overtime.
Freeman also discussed the five-star Medicare rating system for nursing homes. Gracedale is currently rated at two stars, i.e. below average. He explained that what hurts the nursing home is not the quality of care, which has a four-star rating, but regulatory compliance is where the nursing home has shortcomings because of the age of the facility. There are usually 17-20 building citations. But Freeman predicts that will go up next year because Public Works has begun to implement numerous preventive maintenance measures.
Freeman is an employee of Premier Healthcare Resources, a privatized Administrator hired by the County in response to the rising deficit. Council member Lamont McClure has advocated a return to county administration.