Consulting firm to help manage Butler County nursing home

“Fresh eyes” are what is needed to bring the Butler County Care Facility into financial stability that is why the commissioners are poised to approve a contract today, March 6, with a consulting firm to help run the nursing home.

County Administrator Charlie Young said the county will pay LeaderStat LLC up to $48,000 to work with and eventually take over for Care Facility Administrator Chuck Demidovich. September is Demidovich’s retirement target. Young said they have interviewed one of LeaderStat’s employees who will be working with Demidovich and may eventually be hired on as the full-time administrator.

The county home has been struggling mightily for years. In December the commissioners had to loan another $225,000 to the facility so payroll could be met through the end of the year. That brings the Care Facility’s outstanding bill up to $750,000, just below a previous loan amount of $1.1 million. The county commissioners have all said previously they have a duty to keep the nursing home because it is the “last resort” for medical care for some poor and elderly residents.

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Young said they believe getting the consulting firm in there should help matters.

“We believe that we can implement some changes with how we manage the facility and document our care, that will enable us to get back on sound financial footing,” Young said.

Demidovich said he is grateful for the help.

“I’ve been feeling a little overwhelmed so the commissioners are doing me a great big favor,” he told the Journal-News.

About 780 pages of new regulations were “dumped” on Demidovich’s desk in November and he believes the consultant can help him with many aspects of running the facility. He has been with county for almost 20 years but before that he worked in the private nursing home sector, that had whole departments to deal with things like the finances.

“I see them as coming in bringing a fresh set of eyes and will help me get things current to what has to be done under state and federal regs and all that,” he said. “Plus they are probably a little stronger in the financial than what I am… When you you are a chain of homes you have corporate people to help you get things done, but when you’re the one and only, tag you’re it.”

The 109-bed facility is one of 31 county-run nursing homes left in Ohio. The nursing homes were mandated in all 88 counties when the first facility was built in 1830 to serve the infirm, poor and homeless. Many of the facilities closed after the state legislature lifted the mandate and counties opted to let the private sector handle nursing care as government budgets shrank.

The revenue stream’s downward spiral started in 2011 when Gov. John Kasich’s budget erased $20.06 per patient per day from the Butler County Care Facility’s Medicaid rate, bringing it down to $173.43 for care that costs about $207 per patient per day.

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The government has continued to tinker with Medicaid rates, and Demidovich said it now sits at around $175 per day. Predictions have been if the home remains status quo the ending cash balance will sink to negative $2 million, with revenues $1 million below expenses by 2020.

The county brought in a consultant last year to study what needs to be done to revive the faltering facility and Demidovich has already implemented many of those those ideas. The commissioners are also well aware the tired facility needs renovations if it expects to be competitive in the market, and attract clients who are not dependant on Medicaid and can pay higher rates.

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Demidovich said plans are underway to replace lighting in the dining room and address worn out equipment like the chiller. He has also been told the county will probably hire an architect to address renovations.

Commissioner T.C. Rogers said the consultant has already made some suggestions, after visting the home, which is a positive.

“It sounds very positive to me…,” he said. “We could make it work, I feel better about it now than I did.”

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