Butler County-run nursing home sees $1M in cost savings, revenues

Changes at the Butler County Care Facility are bringing about cost savings and increased revenues of almost $1 million, according to a county official.

In December, commissioners had to loan another $225,000 to the facility so payroll could be met through the end of 2016. That brought the Care Facility’s outstanding bill up to $750,000, just below a previous loan amount of $1.1 million.

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Butler County Administrator Charlie Young said the facility’s population is up five percent from 96 patients one year ago to its current 101 patients. That level will bring in about $330,000 annually if it can be sustained, he said.

The Care Facility has shaved about $10 off daily expenses per patient, which will save $365,000 annually, according to Young. And improved training for staff has resulted in higher reimbursements — totaling $200,000.

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“ The trick of course is to sustain those improvements over the full year and into the future,” Young said.

Butler County has siphoned Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) money away from the airport to pay for a new roof, chiller and parking lot at the home plus many upgrades on the building’s interior.

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Young said the recent layoff at the Care Facility probably accounts for about half the estimated $365,000 savings but they also found opportunities to save on food, pharmacy and some other “odds and ends.”

“It was a variety of different things, we don’t believe it will negatively impact the client experience, but there were opportunities to get our costs down just a little bit,” he said.

Last month the county sent out 16 reduction-in-force notices, but the net result was only about six people. Young said several employees have left the county’s employ and others are taking advantage of retraining.

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Jennifer Strickland, the new co-administrator at the home, explained that the county gets reimbursed from Medicaid and Medicare based on how much work goes into caring for patients. For example a patient who is only there with a hip problem would not “score” as high as someone who is completely bedridden and unable to care for themselves.

She said the nurses were previously not well trained to accurately score their patients, but now they are.

“The most important thing is we are more accurate and better trained to assess what we are doing for the person,” Strickland said. “Thus we are getting the accurate revenue for what we are providing, whereas before we probably weren’t being reimbursed at the appropriate rate because we weren’t sharing all that we were actually completing for the person.”

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Desmond Maaytah, who handles the CDBG funding for the county, said the commissioners have agreed to defer the $260,000 paving project at the airport so they can use those funds for most of the capital projects at the home. The new roof is going to cost $151,900 and the chiller is about $73,000. They also have an architect working on improvements to the interior of the building.

He said most if not all of the nursing home projects qualify for CDBG funding.

“Any improvements to that facility, since it is serving a low and moderate income population, I don’t see any at this point that are ineligible,” he said.

Commissioner T.C. Rogers was pleased to hear about the improvements at the home.

“This is an example of when you are dealing with something countywide, how small improvements can produce large gains,” he said.

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