Greene County Medical Center announced today after the regular, public Board of Trustees meeting that the Medical Center will be closing its Long Term Care Department, commonly referred to as the nursing home. After many efforts the past several years to continue such services, the Long Term Care Department will close by September 28, 2022.
“We are extremely saddened to be closing the doors of our Long Term Care Facility, operated as a department of Greene County Medical Center,” said Jim Schleisman, Chairman of the Board for Greene County Medical Center. “Due to many factors, we will cease operations of our Long Term Care Department. Our residents’ safety and their best interests are our number one priorities and will continue to be as we work through this transition.”
The Medical Center Board has been discussing Long Term Care services for several years and thoroughly considered many options over the past three years to continue providing Long Term Care services on the Medical Center’s campus. Options considered were constructing a new facility, remodeling the existing facility to be competitive with today’s Long Term Care standards, and transferring or selling the on-site operating license to another management company. Ultimately, the Medical Center’s Board concluded that the options available aren’t feasible; being cost prohibitive due to the age of the facility, construction costs and acquiring building materials.
The current Medical Center Long Term Care Facility is grandfathered in with current Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals requirements, such as size of bathrooms, doorways and hallways. These requirements do not allow the Medical Center to make structural improvements or remodel in phases. If any changes are made, all new requirements must be met, being very cost prohibitive and timely.
“Making a very large investment in improvements and remodeling, but still having a facility on the 2nd floor wasn’t ideal or practical. A remodeling project while residents are living in the facility would have a negative impact on our residents. Instead, we believe helping place our residents in facilities of their choice is the best option,” concluded Schleisman.
The Board also considered the condition of the nursing home industry over the past few years. According to studies, nationwide nursing home occupancy rates are currently 71%, with Iowa being 74%. In addition, current polls reveal 77% of seniors prefer aging in place or aging at home, according to AARP. Greene County Medical Center has provided Long Term Care on the 2nd floor of the Medical Center for many years, at one time providing care for 60 residents. The current Long Term Care occupancy at the Medical Center has been declining and is currently only 34 residents.
COVID-19 has played a factor in occupancy rates and continues to be a concern for the future of the nursing home industry. Hospitals operating nursing homes is unusual and difficult with declining payments rates from governmental payers to nursing homes.
Medical Center staff will be assisting 34 residents and their families’ transition to alternate nursing home facilities of their choice as a part of the closure plan. The Medical Center has hired a Long Term Care industry expert, Accura HealthCare, to assist families with the placement of their loved ones. Although the decision was difficult, the decision aligns with the Medical Center’s goals and financial structure to be able to continue delivering healthcare services for 5, 10, and 20 years into the future for patients and future generations in Greene County and the surrounding area.