Friday, February 22, 2019

More Oversight Suggested at Gracedale

Blogger's Note: This report is based on Northampton County videos. I skipped last night's meetings to watch DeSales defeat DelVal in an exciting basketball game. It's playoffs, and both Desales MBB and WBB will play in the 'ship on Saturday. In case you're wondering, my grandson did get in the game for the final 30 seconds. He looked very good standing on the court as the clock ran out.

Last night, Northampton County Council's Human Services Committee was supposed to conduct a meeting  focused exclusively on Gracedale, the county-owned nursing home. The most recent state survey, released January 4, cites 11 deficiencies directly related to resident care. Medicare now lists the home as a two-star, or below average, nursing facility. This is in stark contrast to the five stars (much above average) assigned to Lehigh County's Cedarbrook. But as happened before, there was no detailed discussion for three reasons. First, Human Services followed a lengthy Tara Zrinski committee meeting on, of all things, industrial hemp. Second, Human Services Director Sue Wandalowski, who really likes to talk, spent 40 minutes talking about every department but Gracedale. Third, Human Services Chair Lori Vargo Heffner spent a good ten minutes stating she'd like to change these meetings on a different day and time. So only about 35 minutes was actually spent on Gracedale. What little was revealed is disturbing.

By the numbers, we know the following, based on the month of December:

- Gracedale's census was about 665.
- Over $200,000 was paid to outside agencies to provide nursing care.
- The number of bedsores was a net of 53. (They do not count residents who have them when they arrive).
- There were 119 reportable infections.
- There were 332 incident reports.
- There were 172 falls.

Interim Administrator Jennifer D. Stewart-King made the case for electronic health records. She noted they are in use at Cedarbrook. She added that they need to institute pain and wound committees as well. She said employees were ignored when they asked for these things. "[County Executive]. McClure was the only one who heard us," she said.

McClure's decision to remove Premier as an outside manager was challenged as well. Council member John Cusick noted that when Premier took over, the County was paying $6 million to fund the home. Premier turned a $6 million deficit into a $3.3 million operating surplus.

"I think that is a big plus," observed Cusick.

McClure responded that Premier exalted cost over care and ruined morale. "They were tasked to run the home so there would be no county contribution," he asserted.

McClure's decision was challenged by Council member Bob Werner as well. He asked whether the County had ever looked at the operational assessment done by Premier. Human Services Director Sue Wandalowski admitted she was unaware of it. He then asked McClure whether he performed an operational assessment before terminating Premier. McClure admitted he performed no operational assessment.

"How did you determine you were going to do a better job without a plan?" asked Werner.

McClure said his decision was based on interviews with county employees as well as the $500,000 Premier charged every year.

Though he neglected to mention it, McClure has been concerned that Premier's record at other public nursing homes has been the subject of bad surveys and complaints.

Council President Ron Heckman, who earlier said he's "all for hemp," concluded Gracedale needs more attention. He noted that in the past, there were bi-weekly meetings to provide oversight.

"We as a group have to think about the largest department in our county with the largest number of residents and the most employees," he said.

And then they ran out of time.

20 comments:

Anonymous said...

If Gracedale is so important why is it shoved to the end of a meeting? Why not have a full meeting just on that. Didn't they do that a few weeks ago? Seems like they are not scheduling these committee meeting very well regarding time spent. Are people asking questions?

Anonymous said...

It seems clear to me that Zrinski is pushing her own agenda here like a runaway train and no one else is making a move to slow her down. Can Vargo-Heffner be far behind? Wake up!

Anonymous said...

The idea of industrial hemp is at least a practical idea. What the county can do about it is another question.

Anonymous said...

The union didn't like the DON. That's all McClure needed to know. Unions before old people. This was expected. And now he points fingers like the weasel he is. He hasn't changed at all.

Anonymous said...

the ugly truth on Bernard O'Hare

Anonymous said...

OT but how did Zrinskie's meeting go, any word?

Anonymous said...

Lamont was a far more effective public servant when he was the county's most notorious no-show. The more he shows up, the more he screws up. What a complete disaster. It's time for you to crank up your Lamont-Defense-PR-mode, Bernie. He needs some Bernie-splainin' to keep from looking like the heartless incompetent he currently appears to be.

Anonymous said...

Zarinski and her agenda have nothing to do with County Government but please, let her continue to waste everybody's time every time her mike is turned on
Wake up County Council and you too Heckman

Bernie O'Hare said...

I watched Zrinski's meeting. Council was more interested in hemp than Gracedale.

sezary said...

With the lack of time being given to Gracedale, at least at public meetings, and with Gracedale being such a large commitment to both the taxpayers and the vulnerable aging population of Northampton County, I believe it is time to give Gracedale full cabinet status instead of being under the umbrella of Human Services. This will allow for greater supervision and responsibility for Gracedale. This is in no way meant as any sort of statement regarding the performance of current Human Services Director Sue Wandalowski. I believe upgrading Gracedale to its’ own full cabinet status, will not only relieve Sue Wandalowski of that responsibility and increase her supervision over the other important departments under the Human Services umbrella; it will also give the taxpayers and the residents of Gracedale the attention, commitment and supervision they deserve.

Anonymous said...

This is just a matter of poor scheduling by Hefner. Zirinski will always take he allotted time with her pet causes. She is and done elected official.. Gracedale needs to be discussed fully. Sadly, the Admisntration is playing her, so they should not be surprised when problems arise.

Anonymous said...

The elderly and disabled use an appalling number of plastic straws. And don't get me started on disposable diapers. Time to do the right thing for the planet.

Anonymous said...

Mr. O'Hare doesn't believe that all elected officials deserve the same respect for their values and issues. He demeans those he does not like. They all have the
same right to speak their mind. Particularly women whom have been silenced and held down by men for so long. Time for them to lead.

Anonymous said...

I like the idea of bringing back hemp. Every time I go to the store I'm appalled at the amount of plastic I wind up buying, even though I bring my own bags. Farmers in the area are struggling. It's good that County government is looking for options to help our agricultural community.

Anonymous said...

anon 10:35 what should the guy do? This is a new world and you want an old white guy to shut down the blue wave. Zirinski and Hefner may be whacky but they are women and no guy in his right mind in the dem party is going to tell them to shut up. It is the new reality of self-centered no need for experience and gender politics at it worse. They were elected to a local office and think they are senators. All about ego.

Anonymous said...

the ugly truth about Bernard o'hare

Bernie O'Hare said...

Excellent idea, Jeff Fox

Anonymous said...

The current McClure hired DON has been there 6 months.
What has she been doing?
Isn't she responsible?

Anonymous said...

Zrinski does not care about Northampton County OR the elderly citizens of Gracedale. Her agenda is hers alone to only further her political aspirations.

Anonymous said...

Will someone please stand up for Gracedale. These is more nonsense going on.