Deficit concerns

Through nine months, the Auglaize Acres is operating with close to a $150,000 deficit, which has the Auglaize County commissioners voicing some concern since they want the county nursing home to continue operation as a stand-alone facility.

During a monthly update, Auglaize Acres Business Manager Kim Sudhoff shared the financial report which showed a deficit of $16,908 in September and an annual deficit of $149,977. It has not created a debt, but it has reduced the cash carryover for the Auglaize Acres fund from $565,591 to $415,613.

“It is obviously a big concern that we have,” Commissioner Doug Spencer said. “The nursing home business has been very difficult for counties to stay in business, but that is our goal and we will try to attain that goal.

“We feel we have the right people in place to make it happen, but this is something we pay special attention to every month,” the commissioner said in reference to the census and the operations budget. “We hope that things will get turned around for us.”

Spencer said the commissioners understand the Auglaize Acres is still solvent, but they also understand it cannot operate more than four years with an annual deficit at this rate. The commissioners stressed the facility needs to be a stand-alone facility with no annual financial help from the county General Fund.

The commissioners also said they understand what the contributing factors are at this point, but they would like further analysis so they and Auglaize Acres officials can make the facility self-sufficient each month.

Auglaize Acres Administrator Connie Pierce has been paying back a debt each month to the county General Fund, which was loaned to the Acres when it was under a previous administrator. Pierce ordered $6,250 paid each month, reducing the debt from more than $400,000 to $176,986.

The other factor to the deficit growing in 2012 is the census fell to 73 people during the mid-summer months when Pierce projected 80 residents throughout the year. The census currently stands at 78, with two more residents moving into the nursing home this week.

The census affects Medicaid and Medicare reimbursement from the government, which also is reducing its reimbursement rates. The county receives more money from Medicare reimbursement, which is for short-term rehabilitation care, than it does for Medicaid, which is for long-term nursing home care.

The majority of the residents are on Medicaid, with only two on Medicare.

Sudhoff also explained Auglaize Acres officials learned the Medicaid reimbursement rate will increase by 1.8 percent in late October, but Acres officials heard it will be reduced by 2 percent in January after the November general election for president.

The commissioners vowed to continue to evaluate the situation and to work with Auglaize Acres officials to make the nursing home self-sufficient and a stand-alone operation. Spencer even suggested converting some of the rooms on the second floor into office space they can rent to businesses.

Sudhoff said Pierce would like to convert those rooms back into living space after the commissioners and the county Emergency Management Agency move their offices back to the Auglaize County Administration Building.

Sudhoff explained Pierce’s suggestion would not require any more nursing staff.

Spencer said they are proud of the fact Auglaize Acres is a dual-certified operation — a short-term and long-term care facility.

Spencer said the commissioners realize they are facing a tough situation since there are fewer and fewer county-owned nursing homes. Spencer estimated fewer than 30 counties operate their own nursing home facilities.

“It is a struggle for private nursing homes, and it is definitely for counties and the number keeps dropping,” said Spencer, who believes the number may be as few as 20 county-owned nursing homes in the 88 counties. “You have to separate out if it is a county home or a truly dual-certified nursing care facility.

“Most counties have decided since it no longer a service they are mandated to provide anymore, and since there are private businesses that can provide the necessary services they have gotten out of the business,” he said. “Right now, we are the exception to the rule and as long as the Acres can sustain itself then our goal is to keep this facility available to the residents of Auglaize County — but it has to be able to sustain itself.”