New McLean County Nursing Home director stresses satisfaction to improve the facility’s finances
The new head of McLean County's government-run nursing home says running a long-term care facility is, in some ways, not that different from running a fast-food joint.
Tim Wiley said customer and worker satisfaction are crucial to success — along with fiscal responsibility. He's been in skilled care administration for 14 years.
Wiley becomes the third administrator at the McLean County Nursing Home in Normal in less than two years.
The facility has lost about $3.5 million since 2019. The county installed an advisory panel in 2018 to come up with recommendations to reverse the nursing homes’ financial trends. The facility is on pace to cost the county money for 13 of the last 15 years.
Wiley said he's confident the long-term care facility can make money by expanding its short-term rehab services, growing the census count for its new hospice wing and by collecting reimbursements from public and private insurers more promptly.
“All of these pieces will come together to give us momentum toward profitability, and I’m confident we are going to be able to get there,” Wiley said.
Wiley said the nursing home is also working to reduce its share of contract nursing staff to reduce costs. Those temporary workers make up nearly half of the nursing home's staff, he said.
Health care facilities across the county are facing staffing challenges that have driven up costs, especially during the coronavirus pandemic. He said the key is to keep more nursing staff from leaving.
“I’ve found that a lot of times retention strategies are the secret to recruitment. If you keep your people you don’t have to try to fill their positions,” Wiley said.
The McLean County Nursing Home relies heavily on public pay (Medicare and Medicaid) for most of its residents. Wiley said he doesn’t believe that compromises the quality of care and accommodations they receive.
“There are some places that serve our aging that have dedicated Medicaid wings and sometimes the accommodations are not as elegant as other parts of the building, but that’s not the case at McLean County (Nursing Home),” he said.
Wiley said despite the facility's past financial struggles, he believes the County Board and administration support his efforts and aren't interested in giving up on the nursing home.
"I want to be a part of an organization that has buy-in, that is behind us and supports us and trusts us," Wiley said. "I have felt that in wonderful ways from day one."
The 150-bed nursing home had 84 residents in October and its monthly average for the year is 70, according to documents presented to the McLean County Board’s Health Committee. The nursing home has 10 residents receiving care in its hospice wing, Serenity Lane.
Wiley replaced Terri Edens, who resigned in August after working at the nursing home for a little over a year. Wiley previously served as Regional Director of Operations for The Loft Rehabilitation and Nursing in Normal.