The McLean County Nursing Home is implementing a series of changes that are intended to make it financially viable.
The nursing home in Normal lost $1.2 million in 2017. A panel of health care experts studied the facility and its finances and produced recommendations to the county in April.
McLean County Nursing Home Administrator Cindy Wegner said the facility in Normal is now getting more referrals for short-term care rehab for those on Medicare.
“The best thing that we’ve done is got into an agreement with the ACOs (Accountable Care Organizations) which is through OSF hospitals, so we are now one of their preferred providers,” Wegner said. “We will be getting more and we have been getting more referrals directly from (OSF St. Joseph Medical Center) which has helped our census.”
Wegner said the nursing home previously provided rehab to only a few patients at a time. She said since gaining preferred provider status in late September, it has provided approximately 10 additional short-term patients. The nursing home has been paid about $4,200 per patient.
The county-run nursing home has also boosted pay for its registered nurses and made aesthetic changes, including new furniture and flooring and some repainted rooms.
Wegner said registered nurses are now paid between $25 and $33 per hour, based on experience. The McLean County Board will vote Tuesday on a proposal to increase pay for the nursing home's nursing director to a range of $73,000 and $110,000 and its three assistant directors of nursing between $58,000 and $87,000, depending on experience.
She added the cost of the facility improvements totaled $50,000.
Wegner has served as the nursing home’s administrator since December 2014 after working at Heritage Manor in Normal for 23 years.
She said the nursing home is vital to the community because there are a limited number of beds for those who can't afford long-term care.
“I don’t want us to be considered the last resort. I would like us to be considered the first resort for people because we have a lot to offer here and we do offer a lot that other facilities do not because we are willing to take people who are on Medicaid,” Wegner said.
McLean County Administrator Bill Wasson said the nursing home should strive to break even financially.
“It is a challenge, there is no question about it,” Wasson said. “We are in a dynamic era relative to both health care and insurance inform and very specifically in Illinois.”
Wegner added she's not sure yet if the facility will come closer to breaking even in 2018 given all the facility improvements and pay raises, but she believes the nursing home's long-term financial outlook is much brighter. She hopes the nursing home can add outpatient care by 2020. That would require approval from state regulators.
She said the nursing home plans to expand its short-term rehab facilities and make other building improvements.
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