McLean County officials say the new administrator hired to take over the McLean County Nursing Home is the change agent the facility needs.
County Administrator Camille Rodriguez said Terri Edens, a veteran in long-term care, has a track record of turning around long-term care facilities.
“She brought the quantifiable information about how she increased census and reduced expenditures in her previous positions,” Rodriguez said.
Edens has served as an administrator at several long-term care facilities. She came to the county from an administrative role at Bickford Senior Living in Bloomington.
The county nursing home in Normal lost $2.28 million in 2019, and its financial losses top $5 million since 2017. Edens believes she can eliminate that red ink in the future.
“I think that we can make budget, and I know that we can increase census with just a few changes,” Edens said.
One change, she said, is better fiscal discipline.
“If it’s not needed, let’s not order it. Can we wait? If it’s needed, of course, we will do whatever we need to do to provide the appropriate things for staff and residents,” Edens said.
Rodriguez said the county also plans to hire more of its own medical staff to save money, rather than contracting for much of it.
The major piece in reversing the nursing home’s financial fortunes is in filling more beds. Currently 76 residents live at the 150-bed facility.
Previously, the county has explored rebranding the nursing home. Rodriguez said that may still be an option, but she said the nursing home needs to overcome the stigma often associated with facilities whose residents are mostly Medicaid-insured.
She said the low-income population is why the county must ensure its long-term viability.
“Calls to privatize the nursing home or even perhaps close it are not as loud as the calls of how important it is to have a nursing home in this community that largely serves and supports people who use Medicaid as their insurance,” Rodriguez said.
When a blue-ribbon committee made recommendations for the nursing home in 2018, County Board member George Wendt recommended the county try to privatize the facillity.
Rodriguez said the committee’s recommendations remain the blueprint for how the nursing home seeks to improve, though she conceded some recommendations haven’t been done, such as creating an overhang outside the nursing home entrance.
Edens replaced Cindy Wegner, who resigned after running the nursing home since 2015.
McLean County Assistant Administrator Cassy Taylor, who helped oversee day-to-day operations at the nursing home prior to Edens’ arrival, said one of the biggest challenges was preventing the spread of COVID-19.
The coronavirus has ravaged many long-term care facilities across the country, but the McLean County Nursing Home hasn’t had any infections.
“We didn’t want a lot of bodies coming in and out of those doors when we provided that support function,” Taylor said. “(Staff) met all of the challenges, without question, without complaint, they met those regulations and I think it shows in our outcomes that we have not had an outbreak of COVID-19.”
We’re living in unprecedented times when information changes by the minute. WGLT will continue to be here for you, keeping you up-to-date with the live, local and trusted news you need. Help ensure WGLT can continue with its in-depth and comprehensive COVID-19 coverage as the situation evolves by making a contribution.