Tuesday, December 14, 2021

Gracedale is NorCo's Biggest Problem

When I was growing up, we used to visit my grandparents regularly. On one visit, my NaNa, as we called her, asked if we'd like a cup of tea. She brought out the kettle, and it was just lukewarm water. It was on that day that my mom decided they were moving in with us. She converted a patio into a studio apartment so they'd have at least some privacy in a house full of kids, dogs, cats, parakeets, a guinea pig and even a myna bird my Dad taught to curse. My mother had her hands full raising five holy terrors, but adding her own parents to her burden made her more at ease. She was an R.N, too, so my grandparents got excellent care in their final years. That was then. These days, it's nearly impossible for many families to care for themselves, let alone their aging parents. Their only option is a nursing home. I doubt many families seriously consider Gracedale. 

Let's say you have the unenviable task of finding a nursing home for a loved one. There are 18 nursing homes within a 10-mile radius of Nazareth. Only one of them has a one-star rating, and it's Gracedale. 

Nursing homes are rated by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid from one to five stars, based on a review of health inspections, staffing and the quality of resident care. A rating of one star means that the nursing home is "much below average." Gracedale has this rating primarily because it is failing to meet what Executive Lamont McClure has often called a "moral obligation" to care for our elderly. Itys rating for staffing and quality of resident care are at just one star. 

Early in McClure's first term, Gracedale had climbed to three stars ("average.") At the time, McClure said he was aiming for a five-star rating. “Gracedale is striving to meet our moral obligation of taking care of those who can no longer care for themselves while balancing the interests of the taxpayers who pay the bills ... .” he said at the time.

This is an unmitigated failure, and McClure owns it. 

On Election Eve, there was a political rally outside the home, complaining about conditions. Although I covered this event, I was skeptical of many of the claims because most of them came from disgruntled ex-employees and an Executive candidate. 

The election's over. Since then, I now know that the state Department of Health recently visited Gracedale and made this finding:

Observations:

Based on a review of nursing time schedules and staff interview, it was determined that the facility failed to provide a minimum of 2.7 hours of direct care for each resident for 13 of 21 days reviewed.

Findings include:

A review of nursing time schedules from October 3, 2021 through October 23, 2021, revealed that the facility failed to provide a minimum of 2.7 hours of direct care for each resident on October 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 14, 19, 21, and 23, 2021, for a total of 13 days out of 21 days reviewed, In an interview on October 24, 2021, at 1:30 p.m., the Administrator stated that the facility did not meet the minimum of 2.7 hours of direct care for each resident on the aforementioned days.

Administrator Jennifer Stewart King has conceded that staffing levels are below the minimum state standards, but has told County Council this measure is based on a full census of 688. She said she expected the nursing home to have higher levels of nursing care per resident once the reduced census is recognized. 

What she represent to Council appears to be untrue. Actually, that's untrue. According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid, the poor staffing is based on a census of 512. 

While the County has made an effort to hire more people, it could do much more. It could seek help from county workers who might be willing to put in a few hours at Gracedale to supplement their meager wages. It could pay people more. And McClure needs to reconsider whether he made the right choice when he replaced an outside administrator so he could save a few bucks. 

County Council has set aside money for several studies. Gracedale should be at the top of the list.    

58 comments:

Anonymous said...

Gracedale went from a crown jewel to the bottom of the barrel in a few short years. Thanks to Executives who tried to sell Gracedale and cut those costs of paying employees a liveable wage. When was the last time the County checked the wages of surrounding hospitals and nursing facilities to see if we're paying comprable wages. It all starts with the wages you pay your employees.

Anonymous said...

Gracedale must be saved. Unfortunately, Lameott and Chucky are arrogant and think they know everything about everything. After the big middle finger McClure gave his county council over his budget, I am sure they will not hesitate to get on it. The guy actually claimed that county council has no right to do any studies because of his control and power. Does the guy have a crown that Chucky polishes?

A private firm may have to run the place. McClure knew he could not force them to do only what he wanted so he caned them and put in his own people. That is what he has done for four years. It is about time County Council stands up for the people. McClure attacked john Brwon four years ago over his handling of Gracedale and Now Brwon is back. He may remind McClure of all that. Glad you are now looking at McClure objectively.

Anonymous said...

As the Gracedale employees have always said, the County Executive and Gracedale administrative staff have ALWAYS lied about Gracedale. NOW maybe you will be believe the EMPLOYEES who work there. Shame on McClure!

Anonymous said...

I appreciate this post and commend you for somewhat supporting Gracedale. But I am also extremely concerned that posts like this will awaken the "let's sell this son-of-a-bitch like yesterday" mob. The people of Northampton County have a huge investment in a pristine, beautiful facility. Selling short would have a horrific impact on our future elderly.

Anonymous said...

Wondering how our Gracedale compares to the only similar setting nearby, that being Cedarbrook. I frequently read good comments about that Lehigh County operation. Fully agree, nursing home care workers are greatly underpaid for what they have to deal with every day.

Anonymous said...

As a Republican I will not blame the deterioration of our country on a local politician, Gracedale is just one part of the overall collapse of our system brought about by the policies of national politicians and I don't mean Trump, but the entrenched bureaucracy of both parties that really has no clue what they are doing.

Anonymous said...

Gracedale’s failures did not happen overnight. McClueless was on council when the census problem and staffing issues began...he is not new to this dance. All the positive spin propaganda on the supposed expected good results from Jennifer King and this gang have
Failed. Who will end up paying for the years of the failed smokescreens sent out to the public about saving Gracedale by this administration and staff?

Anonymous said...

you know its called COVID a worldwide pandemic with a staff that is non compliant when it comes to vaccinations and a goofy county executive candidate and his fired co-horts who publicly complain about the home and the living conditions etc.

Maybe the county should lease the operation out to a 3rd party and get rid of all the people working there, could you imagine the tax break we would get next year?

Anonymous said...

How many studies/ How much personal experience with loved ones does it take before this
facility is mandated to change. Why aren't these government leaders embarrassed?

Anonymous said...

Bernie - I'm still more than a few years away from needing a retirement home for myself and thankfully parents aren't interested or ready either so I'm really ignorant on this issue.

I tried to do a quick search for pricing at Gracedale vs Moravian Hall ($3K/m) vs Country Meadows ($3.5K/m). I don't know how accurate either Moravian or Country Meadows sticker price is, if it includes Medicaid or if its out of pocket costs. I couldn't find any pricing for Gracedale.

I'm feeling pretty sure this is a case of "you get what you pay for". Clearly lack of staff reflects both a bad culture and poor compensation.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Gracedale’s failures did not happen overnight. McClueless was on council when the census problem and staffing issues began"

When McClure was on Council, therewere no census or staffing issues. This has happened since he became exec.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"you know its called COVID a worldwide pandemic with a staff that is non compliant when it comes to vaccinations and a goofy county executive candidate and his fired co-horts who publicly complain about the home and the living conditions etc."

Yes, the pandemic threw a monkey wrench into things, but it did that at all nursing homes. The only nursing home within a ten-mile radius of Gracedale to have just one star is Gracedale. We have gone from crown jewel to cess pool. It is clear employees are unhappy. It is equally clear that the money paid to retain employees is woefully inadequate. Bringing in agency nurses at far higher salaries only proves we are not paying enough. If McClure really feels we have a moral obligation to care for the elderly at Gracedale, then he needs to address this issue and do so now. He needs to be prepared to make changes



Bernie O'Hare said...

"I tried to do a quick search for pricing at Gracedale vs Moravian Hall ($3K/m) vs Country Meadows ($3.5K/m). I don't know how accurate either Moravian or Country Meadows sticker price is, if it includes Medicaid or if its out of pocket costs. I couldn't find any pricing for Gracedale."

I get that some homes are more selective although pretty much all will settle for Medicare or Medicaid once the $ runs out.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"But I am also extremely concerned that posts like this will awaken the "let's sell this son-of-a-bitch like yesterday" mob. "

There never was a "let's sell" mob. I know. I was one of those very few who advocated the sale and I was wrong. I am by no means advocating sale. What I am saying is that either we have a moral obligation to care for our elderly or we don't. McClure has repeatedly insisted we do, but he has failed the residents there miserably. He should be all over this until the home and the people in it are on solid footing. This is on him. It has gown down to one star and he is the Exec. I was unwilling tobuy into what Stacy Soldo and other disgruntled people say for political reasons, but believe the report from the DOH.

Don't worry about a sale. If the county continues to miss its patient care requirement, it will lose its license.

Anonymous said...

The PPD is figured on actual resident census daily. DOH due to the pandemic was not citing this which I understood but it is almost two years and glad to see they are. In order to meet the PPD census needs to go down. 2.7 is hardly a good number to meet residents needs as evidence of one star. McClure thought bringing in his own would help but as you note they dropped from three to one. Even with the electronic records that they said would help. His arrogance of wanting his own people in hurt the home. So he brought in nurses with no long term knowledge who have hurt the home more. Despite being a person who worked their way up the ladder ..that doesn't make a knowledgeable good leader.maybe committed but obviously not capable. Of course the county interference in the home when managed by private management didn't help either as their hands were tied. And let's not forget the union bosses who really don't care about the residents or care. I hate to see it go private but if the county won't do the right thing someone needs to. The residents deserve it. And council has been made aware of all of the issues over many years and ignored them. So blame can be on many but those hurt don't deserve it. Let the arrogance aside and do the right thing.

Anonymous said...

I'm vaccinated thank you and would you like to pay my bills since you think all of us should be fired

Anonymous said...

Hard to imagine a more worthy government obligation than to provide great care to its elderly. My goodness, these folks have paid their dues on Earth several times over. Their ‘final chapter’ should NEVER be something to fear. As a society, we can do MUCH better. Don’t forget, most every one of use will require personal care at some future time. Let’s get it RIGHT!

Anonymous said...

This is a simple solution Sell the place or remove the current management and pay the employees a wage that co-insides with other nursing homes.

Bernie O'Hare said...

" co-insides"

Geez.

Bernie O'Hare said...

10:51q, Agreed. We need to do better. We should not be going backwards, and we are.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"council has been made aware of all of the issues over many years and ignored them. "

I agree that, at times, County Council chose to stuck its head in the sand. I was put off by Vargo-Heffner when she said several times that she wants to hear what's going right at Gracedale. She no longer says that.

In fairness, we get all kinds of stories. Some will tell us things are going great. Others will say it's terrible. When we get tagged by DOH, though, it is time to pay attention. This home is the county's biggest problem. It needs the highest priority. Some of the problem is low pay. But some of the problem is employees who abuse family leave. Cusic made a good point when he observed we still pack four residents to a room. That needs to end.

Anonymous said...

This is why Government should not be involved in running a nursing home. Sell it already.

Anonymous said...

I think you were correct when you advocated for the sale. History has certainly proven you correct. The sale was defeated on a referendum during and off year primary in one of those elections you often cite as evidence our democracy is in trouble. John Stoffa was not a heartless "let's sell this SOB yesterday" guy. just the opposite, he thought a sale was best for our seniors and the county. He was right. History has proven him right. The gang that says they care the most about Gracedale has delivered disgraceful and cruel results.

Anonymous said...

Four to a room? that's not care, that's warehousing! Take note, if you don't want to packed away later, start saving for end of life care now!

Anonymous said...

I've admonished my kids to plan for their old age so to "not end up in Gracedale." My parents used to say the same thing to my siblings and me. Gracedale is a place of last resort. It has been for decades and will always be. Nobody with a heart and the money to make a choice would choose a 1-star home for their loved ones.

Bernie O'Hare said...

But there are those who lack the money to choose

Anonymous said...

One star is not an acceptable rating regardless of the alibi's and plenty of blame to go around. That being said..FIX IT!

Anonymous said...

I would like to mention and thank all the caring kind dedicated employees who do their best every day despite all odds to care for those residents.

Anonymous said...

So why wait until after the election, Bernie, to print this information? Yes, I know, it's only posted 41 days after the inspection/visit on the PA state nursing home locator site, but many of us, including me, knew what happened with that October 24th visit just days after the visit.Hmm? How awful is it that residents and staff have to suffer while County Council and the County Executive continue to say that there is nothing wrong there. C'mon man!

Anonymous said...

This should have been posted before the election since the visit occurred on October 24th at Gracedale. Guess it wasn't convenient for the election but there were those of us who knew about it.

Anonymous said...

The main problem is management! They are clueless! The place was run better when it was an outside source, but instead he tried to save money. And look how that turned out in the end! Management boosted about new employees being better than the old, as if the reliable old timers were replaceable. And again, look how that turned out.. He needs to go and take his management team with him! When you are working short staffed and having to do the SAME job duties but getting paid the same, it's not worth it. People are literally working themselves exhausted, then wonder why people go out and get IFMLA or quit after numerous years of employment... It use to be a great place to work, and COVID isn't the reason!

Bernie O'Hare said...

"This should have been posted before the election since the visit occurred on October 24th at Gracedale. Guess it wasn't convenient for the election but there were those of us who knew about it."

You obviously failed the read the report, even though I linked to it. The exit date was 10/24/21, and the webpage clearly notes, "Surveys don't appear on this website until at least 41 days have elapsed since the exit date of the survey."

I was therefore unable to write about this before the election bc I did not know about it until recently.

Before the election, there was a group of disgruntled ex-employees and a political wingnut on one side and an administration on the other. I did report on what the wingnut and ex-workers had to say, but they have zero credibility with me. I do have more confidence in the DOH report.

Next time, read the link before you make accusations.

Anonymous said...

We are all just one major wholly crap away from being in one of these places when we get older. We all need to hope that places like this improve and survive.

Very few of us are actually financially secure enough to whether a major situation especially a major medical issue. As an example my friend up the street and his x wife had a situation. She was diagnosed with cancer. As she was going through treatments he lost his job and then they could not afford cobra any more. By the time she was done with treatments the first time and then the second time along with all the other stuff they racked up over $1.7 million in hospital, prescription, and other medical bills. They pay what they can every month but will never ever catch up. They are trying to figure out how their kids will not be burdened with the debt later as well. People say it cannot happen but be very careful in how you do things or it can.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"How awful is it that residents and staff have to suffer while County Council and the County Executive continue to say that there is nothing wrong there. C'mon man!"

I've heard no one in the admin or Council proclaim noting is wrong at Gracedale. Quite the contrary. But we do get differing views. This is why a study is needed. I've taken McClure to task, but let me make clear that Gracedale's workforce is by no means the injured aND INNOCENT PARTY. I have seen them ignore the dressing on a bedsore for a month and lie about it. I have seen them abuse family leave for more than anywhere else within the county. I know some opf the people who work there. The only injured and innocent party here is the resident. It is time for you to get your act together, too.

Anonymous said...

There are bad staff everywhere. That's why management needs to manage and find those problems. As for FMLA you can manage that better also. There are ways to monitor and hold accountable. The staff should not be running the show. But there are very good people there also. The plan needs to evaluate the building and future needs and commitment to making a renovated home that will offer a homelike environment and be a five star home. One we can be proud of and willing to pay for so our elderly and those in need have a place to call home. If they are not committed to that then it truly should be sold.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps the tax break to all could have been used to renovate ..

Anonymous said...

Family leave is abused because of how they are treated. They work ridiculously mandated OT or lose their jobs. The way the employees are treated is the way they treat their employment and thus take family leave to take care of their families and themselves since McClure doesn't care.

I don't see any of the Administration helping to work for the residents at Gracedale like was said that the other employees should. Lead by example. That is what is happening. McClure/Dertinger are very poor examples.

Anonymous said...

When McClure took over, people with years of experience handling the DOH and managing Gracedale were just let go. McClure was asked if he had a transition plan for running the county home, and we are still waiting for it.
McClure uses the “moral obligation” political bullshit statement while failing to actually do anything real to benefit
Gracedale and it’s staff like setting up an actual tax exempt donation program, or paid training for new staff recruits, or tapping into former Gracedale directors for suggestions. If McClure truly cared about Gracedale, he would invest in real management teams to suggest real answers, not the worthless , false promises given by his hired hands that have proven they cannot manage the home.

Anonymous said...

I heard Lori Vargo Hefner wanted the money to do the study so they can sell it.

Anonymous said...

I propose a referendum that requires all county executives and council members, upon their swearing in, to contractually agree to enter Gracedale - and no other LTCF - if they ever require an LTFC. Lamont Gotrocks wouldn't send his dog to Gracedale. Bernie did Lamont's bidding before finally speaking up, and will ultimately end up in Gracedale. I think that's called justice. Both deserve 1-star care. But the big guy won't be putting up with anything less than 5-stars. And Lamont laughs ......

Anonymous said...

All these Gracedale employees struggling to make ends meet but they consistently vote Republican, a party that aligns themselves against affordable healthcare and living wages. Why? These so-called “LiBtaRds” are not your enemy, corporate greed and capitalism as it stands is.

Get your heads out of your asses and stop voting against policies that hurt you.

Anonymous said...

First off let's thank all the dedicated employees who are working under less than ideal conditions at Gracedale. It takes a special person to take care of the elderly. I know not all the employees are good, but most are.

I felt like they should have sold Gracedale and I voted to sell it way back when. I don't think government should be in the business of running a nursing home. I am open minded and I was willing to listen to the keep Gracedale side, but I feel like this is an "I told you so" moment. It's gotten worse out there, not better. This is on McClure and he needs to make this priority one!

I am curious as to what made you change your mind about selling the nursing home Bernie? Can the county fix the problems out there? I agree a study needs to be done, let's find out the problems then come up with a plan to fix them. I just feel that the county is not equipped to properly run a nursing home. I am open minded and willing to listen to the people who think they county should run it, but lately it's hasn't gone well out there.

Anonymous said...

This person still thinks the Democrats are the party of JFK. Sorry you missed the train. The Democrats are the party of give money to ppl for welfare ,for votes, look at the last council meeting. 60% of the grants being handed out our for ppl that already have gotten one. Just free money . That what the democratic party thinks...Its free everything. And make the rich pay for it. But remember as the numbers go up on free money, the number of who is considered rich comes down. As long as you're not in the poverty line your rich to the Democrats

Anonymous said...

The only way to fix Gracedale is to pay people that work there more.

Sounds simple but it’s the only thing Solution because that’s what attracts quality candidates.

Anonymous said...

The problems go beyond pay. With all of the overtime staff end up paid well. Longevity also increases pay there. So money although important to evaluate is not the cause of years of neglect, no planning for the future and poor management

Anonymous said...

That is the same everywhere in the county. You should see the jail. The ppl they are hiring. And other officers have to put their lives in these ppl hands. But no one cares about the ppl behind the walls. And in the words of our fearless leaders the "residents " aren't worried about either. Because putting subpar employees out there they are being neglected also.

Anonymous said...

4:30am - Two wrongs don't make right. It's an employees job market at the moment. Stop bitchin and do something about it.

Anonymous said...

McClure has made it clear that County Council is only to get the information he approves. His complete control has created this mess. It is hard to know the facts when he muzzles the truth and hides information.

Anonymous said...

Imagine being so willfully ignorant that you come to the defense of the wealthy two percent of this country.

It’s all by design, they’ve been brainwashing you to be a “hard working” cog in their system since grade school.

You speak of helping the poor with pp loans yet you don’t bat an eye about the fact the biggest beneficiaries of lump sum went to greedy corporations that saw fit to pay CEOs million dollar bonuses than to pay employees a liveable wage. These big corporations manufactured a shortage of employees and brainwashed you into believing that people are lazy and just don’t want to work. But the fact of the matter is is that they didn’t have to pay the bail-out loan, so they created hundreds of job positions that they had no intention of filling. That’s called theft, but if a working class citizen asks for a little bit of help from the government during this pandemic, he’s just lazy and mooching off the government.

The top 10 percent of Americans own 80 percent of the wealth in this country, stop protecting greedy corporations and billionaires and start fighting for the people you see everyday in your neighborhoods.

Anonymous said...

No, you don’t understand. Nobody wants to work 80 hours a week to “get paid well.”

People want to spend time with their families that spend half of their life in a nursing home.

You can’t get that time back.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"McClure has made it clear that County Council is only to get the information he approves. His complete control has created this mess. It is hard to know the facts when he muzzles the truth and hides information."

I have said that McClure now owns the one-star problem at Gracedale. It dropped from three to one under his watch. Vut the notion that he hides things is a flat-out lie. His administration is the most transparent I've ever seen. He has never hesitated in releasing the bad news as well as the good. I have dealt with administrations that hide things. That is not McClure.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"I am curious as to what made you change your mind about selling the nursing home Bernie? Can the county fix the problems out there? "

Not all that long after the referendum in which voters overwhelmingly decided to keep Gracedale, I attended a volunteer appreciation day. I was far from popular, but still noticed that the residents were treated with love by many of the workers. I would learn that they would take them shopping, take them home for a weekend and do all sorts of things that made them feel loved. That's when I realized I was wrong.

Bernie O'Hare said...

It's certainly true that every minute you miss with your kids is a minute you don't get back.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I received an anonymous comment informing me that I should talk to Council member bc they will tell me McClure has hidden things from them. This is a blatant lie. I do talk to several Council members. They have made no such accusation. Moreover, if that were the case, they would expose McClure.

Don't lie to me or my readers.

Anonymous said...

If you are going to post this information, Bernie, then post it all. A second deficiency substantiated from that DOH visit was a resident who fell because his 1:1 physician ordered supervision was not maintained due to inadequate staffing. Wow! Yes, knew about that in October, 2021, as well but few, including you, appeared to be believing anything negative about staffing at Gracedale!

Bernie O'Hare said...

I did not right about the falls bc they happen often and that was minor in comparison to the staff shortage. NO mention was made of falls by Lynch or his myrmidons. He instead claimed that his mailer was destroyed and that he had proof. Apparently not.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if that resident and his family believe, as you do, that his fall was minor, Bernie. That fall was the direct result of understaffing and was very important because a direct physician order was not followed. Wow! Can only imagine how angry the physician and family must have been about that “minor detail”.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Falls are, in fact, minor in comparison to the staff shortages that cause them. Eliminate the staff shortages and you eliminate the falls. That's the point.