Butler County to give county-run nursing home another loan

Butler County will grant another loan to the county-run nursing home.

Commissioners will lend the Butler County Care Facility $425,000 to finish out the year.

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Last December, commissioners had to loan another $225,000 to the facility so payroll could be met through the end of the year. That brought the Butler County Care Facility’s outstanding bill up to $725,000, just below a previous loan amount of $1.1 million.

Finance Director Tawana Keels told the commissioners this week the $725,000 needs to go back to the general fund for accounting purposes but a new loan will be necessary to pay Butler County Care Facility expenses through the end of the year.

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“About three years ago we advanced them about $1 million, the balance that’s carried forward has been $725,000,” Keels said. “What we are attempting to do here is to clear up that advance. It shouldn’t run three years, it’s typically a year.”

Ever changing Medicaid funding and rules and a run-down facility have combined to negatively impact the nursing home’s bottom line. The commissioners have hired consultants to come up with ways to rectify the situation, and Jennifer Strickland officially took over managing the home with the retirement of its long-time administrator earlier this month.

Since then, the Care Facility has shaved about $10 off daily expenses per patient, which will save $365,000 annually, and improved training for staff that has resulted in reimbursements totaling $200,000.

“I think we’re definitely moving toward greater stability,” Strickland said.

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Work is also planned to improve the physical building on Princeton Road. A new roof is almost complete, and a remodel of the entire facility is underway, which should make the facility more competitive and self sustaining, officials said.

“When it’s all said and done we’ll probably spend well over a $1 million, but it’s going to be probably a two or three year process…,” Commissioner Don Dixon said. “It’s really going to depend, as we do these improvements, how we drive the occupancy up and there in turn will provide the resources to continue to update.”

The commissioners agreed to divert about $500,000 in Community Development Block Grant funds away from other projects to put toward the nursing home this year.

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The commissioners all agreed it was the county’s responsibility to run the nursing home, which serves the less fortunate and people that other facilities won’t take.

Commissioner T.C. Rogers said the improvements will save on maintenance costs.

“Because (the commissioners) do have a business background, we would not go this far unless we believe it was going to produce results,” he said.

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