Friday, November 19, 2021

Gracedale Down to One Star Again

Early in Executive Lamont McClure's administration, Gracedale's rating was at three stars. That rating, prepared by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMM), means that the home was "average." While this is hardly any reason to boast, it was a significant step up from the one-star (much below average) the home had in 2017 under former Executive John Brown. McClure vowed that he would seek to get that five-star (much above average) star. Instead, he's gone in the opposite direction. The most recent CMM rating at Gracedale is back to just one star.  Its staffing and quality of resident care are both at just one star as well. 

No one mentioned this drop at yesterday's monthly review of Gracedale by Northampton County Council. But it's clear that Council members are upset with the never-ending complaints, and they wasted little time letting it be known they are frustrated. . 

Council member John Cusick noted the home is poised to lose money this year, and stated that staffing is its biggest issue.

Cusick complained that Gracedale provides only 2.61 nursing hours per resident per day. "That's not just a number, that's people who are not getting enough care." McClure had earlier taken a shot at for-profit nursing homes, but Cusick observed that the care provided at those places actually exceed Gracedale. "Gracedale sits at the lowest nursing home hours per resident per day in the Lehigh Valley."

Cusick asked Administrator Jennifer Stewart-King if the home can continue to admit new residents, given the obvious poor quality of care. Stewart-King mentioned that the census at Gracedale right now is 487. This is well below the 688-bed capacity and about 100 fewer residents than in July.  

Stewart-King noted that other homes have allowed their census to drop so they can keep a higher nursing care to patient ratio. She hinted that Gracedale is following suit, something Executive McClure hinted at a few months ago. 

The problem with allowing census to drop is that revenue drops with it. 

Council member Lori Vargo-Heffner, who previously stated several times that she wanted to hear the good things about Gracedale, has begun questioning Gracedale's administration. She blasted a presentation made by Gracedale Administrators in October, which heaped praise on McClure while referring to Stewart-King and Director of Nursing Dawn Marie TuersFeldman as the "dynamic duo," complete with superhero outfit.

Vargo Heffner called the "dynamic duo" presentation "insulting to me." 

Vargo-Heffner told the dynamic duo that Council has voted for every position sought and every request made over the past four years. She said employees "are stressed and taxed and complaining all the time." She added that problem exists throughout the health care industry, but it's time for some "hard conversations" about what is needed to make Gracedale successful. "I get calls all the time from people about how they're spoken to, how they're stressed, about the overtime, we got $2 million going to nursing agencies. Should we be bringing some of that back in salaries?"  

Council member Kerry Myers put it succinctly: "Benefits don't pay bills."

He said Gracedale workers need more money.

McClure touted a contract extension with the RNs and social workers that will give them a step (4.5%) one year followed by two or 2.5% the second. 

This increase is actually below inflation. 

18 comments:

Anonymous said...

So like we all know, McClure is a liar!

Anonymous said...

Gracedale should have been sold years ago. There is simply no need for the government (and taxpayers) to be in the VERY EXPENSIVE nursing home business for the benefit of 487 county residents.

And spare me the whining that residents will have nowhere else to go. The census was much higher in the past, but as you note the county hasn't had any problem lowering the census to save money. Apparently those not able to get in because of the reduced count went somewhere, as they have in every county that has sold their nursing homes.

Most importantly, getting Gracedale out of county government's hands would allow current residents to get better care. County ownership isn't doing Gracedale residents any favors.

Please don't misconstrue that last statement as a knock on Gracedale workers. It's not. Gracedale's rating is a result of the limitations of a government-owned facility. The realities of county ownership will never allow the facility to be as able (for the benefit of residents) and efficient (for the benefit of taxpayers) as it could be.

Anonymous said...

None of this is surprising. Gracedale is always the LTCF of last resort. After so many CoViD deaths, the National Guard deployment, and zero investigation by ANY member of county government, the desperation to avoid sending loved ones to Gracedale has dramatically increased. McClure and council still pretend nothing happened there, and certainly nothing that warrants one minute of independent investigation. This council went for months without holding a serious meeting while residents were dying in huge numbers in the 18064 zip code. The first step is admitting you have a problem. They're not at the first step and don't appear to be heading there any time soon. I suggest we ban plastic straws and continue to ignore what happened there.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"So like we all know, McClure is a liar!"

I know nothing of the sort. You have provided no factual basis upon which anyone can draw that conclusion. Moreover, in all the years I've known him, both as a critic and as a supporter, he has been painfully honest.

Bernie O'Hare said...

7:11, Your comment is nothing short of horseshit, as I have pointed out numerous times. The deaths at Gracedale were tragic, but were occurring at all nursing homes. Everyone knows the elderly are more susceptible. As the crisis developed,McClure took a number of proactive steps: 1) He has EMS scour the country to obtain PPE for the home and first responders throughout the county; 2) He established an isolation ward for those infected, and did so long before other nursing homes; 3) He banned visitors and volunteers bc of the danger of community spread; 4) He instituted masking and temp checks; 5) He established frequent testing; 6) He refused to bring in Covid-19 positive residents; 7) Yes, he brought in the National Guard and it's a good thing he did bc employees were afraid to work; 8) He authorized hazard pay; 9) he ensured that residents could be vaccinated, and over 90% have been vaccinated; 10) He brought in air purifiers that kill viruses in the air; and 10) He has given the staff a vaccine incentive before it became mandatory.

I am sure there are other steps he took, but cannot list them all at this moment.

In addition to the steps McClure took, County Council conducted monthly oversight of what is happening at Gracedale. John Cusick has been asking hard questions all along.

I note that you have failed to provide a single suggestion for what McClure should have been doing differently.

Yes, there is a staffing problem. There has been a staffing problems since before Covid-19. There are disgruntled employees who abuse family leave, and that tends to bring down morale. But guess what? There is a staffing problem and burnout at all nursing homes. I agree it makes no sense to bring in agency nurses at an exorbitant cost when you could simply increase salaries and retain people. But no one has swept this problem under the rug. It is discussed at nearly every council meeting, including last night.

Anonymous said...

The immediate concern seems to be a potential loss of revenue because of low census, that has been a steady problem, and now a concern for the number of counties that still own nursing homes and are contributing toward the IGT money that could be reduced dramatically...in the range of 2 million it had been....along with staffing problems that apparently the marketing efforts to bring qualified people has failed ...I believe all these need immediate attention and new ideas...the council has not suggested any ways to resolve these issues, and condemnation is not an answer Ms Heffner

Anonymous said...

I’m sorry but Gracedale should be privately owned. It’s obvious that if the residents and their families are not satisfied with county-taxed and funded senior care living facilities, it’s time to go private and have them reach into their own individual pockets, and pay for their parents home care. Let’s see how that idea goes over…

Anonymous said...

There are still successful county owned facilities. Lehigh county. Now building a new home and been an excellent home for 20 years. How it's managed is key. Especially the director of nursing position and nursing home administrator. The county responsibility is to have goals for future which they continue to ignore. They can't even get staff or more than a one star rating. They are paying alot for a new medical record system which is a good system but their star rating still declines. Perhaps it is because the nursing management doesn't know long term care.

Anonymous said...

Try to defend him all you like. He owns Gracedale and did a horrific job mismanaging the pandemic there. You got him re-elected. Stop cucking for him and grow some balls. He's responsible. The Nation Guard FFS.

Anonymous said...

Personally I think the man is arrogant to the point he doesn't make sound decisions.
He treats people based on his political party and not each individuals merits
However we must give him credit for getting ppe and helping Gracedale with protection when it wasn't easy to find. How he runs the home daily is another matter. But give credit where it's due. The pandemic hurt everyone and no one to blame but for whomever released this virus into the world.

Anonymous said...

If you want to solve the problems at Gracedale you need to start with management. Are we hiring good management people to run the facility. Next you need to look at staffing. Are we getting qualified people to work at Gracedale. Next we need to look at salaries. Are we paying decent wages to attract good employees to care for our elderly. These are not very complicated issues. If you are not paying decent wages non of the aforementioned issues and problems will go away. Do a damn pay survey and bite the bullet. Peg Ferraro hit the nail on the head when she said it's been almost thirty (30) years since a pay study was done. Hire a professional firm to do your study and correct the wage inequities and maybe, just maybe, some of your problems will be resolved. It was said at a council meeting that John Stoffa did a pay survey and then said it was too costly to implement. Is this true?

Anonymous said...

SELL THE MONEY PIT ONCE AND FOR ALL!

Anonymous said...

Well, they treat their employees like there expendable. Change jobs duties to suit their staffing needs. They Harass, bully, and threaten staff. After almost 21 years, I resigned. I refuse to be treated like I’m not a human being and spoken to in that manner. I’m definitely liked & appreciated by much better people! County Council needs to look at all the staff that has left in the past 3 years and then see how many years we were all there. I left with only 8 years and 2 months to go to retire with full county benefits and a great monthly pension payout. I’d rather live in my car than work under the current leadership or should I say, the lack there of. They need to learn how to do their jobs effectively! The Director of Nursing has spent more time on vacation and has gone thru around 6 Assistant Director’s of Nursing because she works them to death! It doesn’t appear that way on paper because she has them apply to be an as needed Nursing Supervisor but they NEVER return for any shifts.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Let's get something straight. No matter what the job might be, everyone is expendable. Nobody is indispensable. I don't know what gave you the notion that you or anyone is untouchable. Now you say you left there after 21 years. So why not sau who you are? You can no longer be bullied or harassed.

Anonymous said...

Why did you say this person thought they were untouchable? What I read is they were treated poorly. What I read is the DON can't keep her assistant DON's. I read many have left due to how they are treated. I've heard the DON doesn't up til recently even take call she delegates that.

Anonymous said...

Stoffa had it right years ago when he proposed selling this money pit.

Anonymous said...

Imagine if the residents of this county had to pay to put their loved ones in a private nursing home.

They don’t have enough money to keep their teeth from rotting away in their mouths but they still vote Republican because “gUnz!!”

Bunch of pathetic shit for brains…

Anonymous said...

What possesses you to write something like this? Those residents are of diversified backgrounds. Some served in our military and fought for our freedoms. If we live long enough everyone will run out of money. How insensitive you are to post such a comment. Think before you post such horrible things