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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Friday, February 20, 2015

A Gracedale Update

D. Freeman and John Belko
In 2011, voters overwhelmingly decided to keep Gracedale, the Northampton County owned nursing home that originally served as its poorhouse. In an effort to make the aging facility more efficient and cost-effective, the County decided to replace in-house administrators with Premier Healthcare Resources. That has resulted in improved quality of care, as recently reflected by a zero-deficiency survey recently performed by the Department of Health, a first in forty years. In addition, Premier has been able to vastly reduce the County's contribution. But in an extensive presentation made to the Finance Committee on February 19, Premier warns that the County's annual cost may be as high as $11.5 million by 2018. Moreover, over $14 million in capital repairs are needed.

This presentation came from D. Freeman, the Premier Administrator working at Gracedale. He was assisted by John Belko, Premier's VP of Operations. Freeman did most of the talking.

The biggest change under Premier has been a significant increase in residents at Gracedale. The census has grown from 590, when Premier first took over, to a high of 681 at the time of the presentation. The more patients, the more revenue.

Administrator D. Freeman has also aggressively pursued accounts receivable. There are bi-weekly accounts receivable reviews going through each file. A collections law firm has brought in $1.4 million, and payment plans are in place for some accounts that were written off in the past.

Through effective us of risk management, workers' compensation claims have dropped from $2 million in 2011 to just $166,000 last year.

But labor still eats away at 67% of the operational costs, compared to an industry standard that varies between 25 and 35%. "This is the killer for us," remarked Freeman. He noted that the facility is about as full as it can be, so that revenue is already maximized. In addition to these high labor costs, the nursing home is at the mercy of declining reimbursements from the state and federal government.

In 2014, Northampton County budgeted $5.85 million to support Gracedale.  It spent $6.7 million.

Updated 2/24: An earlier version of this story contained an incorrect link to Premier.

25 comments:

Anonymous said...

So Stoffa and Angle were right about the finances. The losses are staggering with no end in sight. Unions won, taxpayers lost.

Anonymous said...

So what's the answer to Gracedale?

Anonymous said...

rid yourselves of the albatross and the associated union hacks that continue to drain the taxpayers

Anonymous said...

So what's the answer to Gracedale?

The only way it ever breaks even is if the state changes the reimbursement formula in the welfare code. Privatizing food service, housekeeping, and laundry is one idea, but the unions will fight that cost saving idea ferociously.

Anonymous said...

why don't brown privitize the county executive position?

Anonymous said...

why don't u union hating trolls get a job at walmart? I hear they provide decent wlivable wages with generous non-union benefits....

Anonymous said...

It's running as well as it's ever run and it's an unmitigated financial disaster that projects to get worse and worse.

Gracedale is why county bridges and other critical services will be ignored. Gracedale is a terrible injustice perpetrated on the 99% of county elderly who struggle to pay their taxes and keep their homes.

Gracedale is why NorCo can't have nice things.

Bernie O'Hare said...

The job Premier has done is obviously outstanding. They have saved money with numerous innovations. Employees seem happier, too, and you can't argue with the latest survey. But there is no question that Gracedale is going to continue to cost the county money and is never going to break even. The voters have decided it is worth the expense. If that feeling changes, it's going to take a lot more than anonymous comments here by peopkle who are afraid to identify themselves. I am willing to ID myself, and I believe we need a few more years before we can determine whether the cost is going to gfo out of control. If that happens, I will advocate its sale, as I did before. But not without getting a lot more support, and from people willing to say who they are.

Anonymous said...


Good news/bad news. Agree..more time needed to evaluate the situation in a rational manner. Public opinion will probably dictate when enough is enough or..keep funding the facility despite the costs. The next county executive race will see this issue as a major point of contention and political stances.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I disagree. Gracedale is the sacred cow. No pol is going to risk political until the county contribution becomes completely unmanageable. and that might be ok. The people might be right. As people begin staying in their homes, it might be possible to downsize the home and use the grounds for other county operations.

Anonymous said...

Gracedale will always be needed. Medical costs and the economy and the downward trends in money saved for retirements and the attacks on SS and Medicare..I see no way that trend gets reversed and older citizens are then capable of staving off institutionalization for economic reasons. personal care facilities are the current answer and the boomers are getting old now too..

Anonymous said...

Gracedale might be hard on senior citizens as far as taxes. But, when they need a place to go and be fed and taken care of when they need. They will be thankful that it's still there!

Anonymous said...

Nursing homes will always be needed but counties don't need to be running them. 2/3 of the counties in PA don't have county owned or operated nursing homes and the people's needs are being met.

Anonymous said...

You are an ignorant asshole. You have no idea what you are talking about. Pray your Dad or Mom doesn't need their services.



Anonymous said...

No employees are happy. Everyone has discontent. D. Freeman is the most two-faced liar. Go ahead and bury the elderly people.
This is much like the Holocaust, but no one cares or does anything. Keep smiling.

Anonymous said...

I am unfamiliar with the debate about Gracedale from a few years back? Can anybody please enlighten me about what happened? Thanks to anyone who can shed some light on this for me!

Anonymous said...

The petition drive to spare Gracedale was a huge undertaking and the people spoke..loudly! Are we going to need another petition drive under Brown? It could come to that again but hopefully this group of so called leaders already know how that will end up again. Stop balancing the budget on the backs of the elderly and sick and poor of this county. Stand for something or you stand for nothing!

Anonymous said...

I am unfamiliar with the debate about Gracedale from a few years back? Can anybody please enlighten me about what happened? Thanks to anyone who can shed some light on this for me!

The voters voted 73% to keep it under county admin, and 27% to sell it. That's what happened. Google is your friend.

Anonymous said...

Angle and Stoffa worked to destroy Gracedale. It will take time to fix what they worked so hard to destroy. Gracedale will remain.

Anonymous said...

My understanding is Gracedale has high standards for employment. Recently an unqualified woman who is also unfit for employment attempted to obtain a supervisory role in nursing there, and was summarily shown the exit door.

Unlike John Brown, who will hire anyone, Gracedale maintains standards for employment. That's a start.

Anonymous said...

Angle and Stoffa did not try to "destroy" Gracedale. Stoffa argued it was not financially viable for the county to run - which it may not be. We wouldn't have to have the tax increase that was just levied if it weren't for losses there.

Selling Gracedale so a private enterprise can run it is not destroying it.

Anonymous said...

Oh anon 1:34, aka John, oh Johnny boy. You got Bernie to cover for you and you played the press for years but you are not the sweet old man you play.

You and Angle had plans and they did not include Gracedale.

Going private had nothing to do with better care but getting cold hard cash to bail you out of your dropping the ball on the swaption. You also wanted money for you obsession with an unneeded human services building that is already obsolete.

Most folks who know the score, know the truth. On this blog you can post your nonsense and Bernie will protect you but we know the truth about what you "wanted" for Gracedale.

Anonymous said...

4:00 AM Talk about total nonsense - I wrote the comment at anon 1:34 PM, and my name isn't and has never been "John".

Assume much? Are you so thick headed that you don't realize half the county followed the Gracedale matter?

Please stop posting at 4 in the morning, and get some sleep instead. You sound loony tunes.

Anonymous said...

"Are you so thick headed"

No, just smart enough to have read through your con. Along with thousands of other people.

Anonymous said...

Hopefully Gracedale will go on to overcome the attempts to destroy it.