This last week I visited with Pat Vincent, and Maureen Greden, Director of Nursing at Three Links Care Center and later with Kyle Nordeen of The Northfield Retirement Center. Our conversations seemed awfully familiar. Many of the issues we talked about were the same ones we discussed four years earlier. The nursing home and long-term care business is in a state of transition as affordability and the desire to stay independent impact the system. Unlike some other facilities, Three Links and the Northfield Retirement Center have done a good job of trying to diversify what they offer. But they operate on a budget with declining resources. They also struggle with a cumbersome and at times arbitrary regulatory system. They don’t question the need for visits, but wonder at the new ‘report card system’ and if all the paper work they have to do really increases their quality of care. Certainly it increases their financial burden and distracts nurses from direct care. Finally, Three Links still must compete with other institutions that can pay their nurses more because of the Metro reimbursements. Three Links is less than a mile from the border, which would make such a reimbursement possible.
The West Central Tribune had a recent article on the issue:
Nursing homes face tough, uphill battle
West Central Tribune – 07/26/2006
LITCHFIELD — Bill Ward, administrator at Dassel Lakeside Community Home, recently had a licensed practical nurse quit because she could make $4 an hour more at a new job just a few miles away.
It frustrates him that Minnesota’s complex nursing home rate formula classifies Dassel Lakeside — and other nursing homes in Meeker County — as “deep rural,” thereby reimbursing them less than their competitors in neighboring counties that are more urbanized.
Even with these disparities, Dassel Lakeside must meet the same standards for care, follow the same regulations and draw from the same labor pool as nearby nursing homes with higher reimbursement rates, Ward told officials Tuesday at a meeting in Litchfield.
“Our reimbursement does not recognize the fact that we are the same as everybody else,” he said. “The reality is a conflict with where we have to be.” Though some legal issues are easily solved, such was the case when I had to speak to a car accident lawyer and got a compensation for the injury.
The legislature has not been helpful in dealing with these issues. Afterwards I listened to the music of the international group “Songs of Hope” and heard them again later the Bridge Square Northfield News Pie in the park event. They were very inspiring, and it was good to share a few minutes with the residents and guests at the nursing home. We are not second class citizens here in our district–state funding guidelines should give us the same advantages and opportunities as those who live just across our border.