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HLRC Appoints Murray, Bids Farewell to Rude 

When Health Management Services (HMS) announced they were prepared to submit their letter of resignation and step away from managing Phillips County’s Hi-Line Retirement Center at a public meeting two weeks ago, members of the new-look HLRC Board of Directors didn’t balk at the offer.

The agreement with HMS – which lasted just over 17 months – ended on Sept. 30 and the HLRC Board is now working towards revoking a request to have HLRC decertified as a nursing home, in attempts to become exclusively an assisted living center. With HMS’ departure also comes the departure of Joe Rude, HMS’s owner who had taken over as the center’s administrator. As the HLRC Board scrambles to save the center and keep it from financial collapse, they were also tasked with finding a new administrator to run business.

Enter Malta’s Dwayne Murray.

Last April, Murray sold his Country Home Assisted Living facility to HLRC after nearly 20 years of being in operation. Shortly after that, Murray served as a temporary administrator at HLRC during the transition of bringing HMS into Malta. Now, a little over a year after his first stint as administrator, Murray is back at HLRC as the administrator and hopes to turn things around.

“The intention of the change of Board and administration is to try and salvage the facility as a skilled nursing facility because an assisted living facility doesn’t really meet the needs of the community,” Murray told the PCN last week, “my goal is to stay until it is successful.”

“We are optimistic it can be saved,” HLRC Board President Iris Robinson added, “but it is going to be a long, hard road in getting this done.”

Murray has held an administrator’s license in the past and though that license has lapsed, Murray said he is currently in the process of getting it renewed with the State Licensing Bureau. In his first stint at HLRC, Murray said he wasn’t able to get local nurses to work at the center. This time he hopes things work out differently. Robinson said she agrees.

“We need nurses, we need LPNs, we need CNAs and we need local ones,” she said, “because the traveling nurses and the price of the traveling staff kills us.”

Robinson said that the HRLC is open to any donations – both monetary or food donations – as well as volunteers. Any food donations need to be approved first and home-canned items cannot be accepted. She said that several retired nurses have stepped up to assist the HLRC. Anyone interested in volunteering their time should contact Karen Salsbery at the center.

Currently, the staff at HLRC consists of around 45 employees and Murray said he is not opposed to bringing former employees back into the fold at the center.

“The intent is to acquire long-term nursing staff and reduce the dependency on travel nursing,” Murray said. “I’ve been in administration in different capacities over the years and I think my strong point has always been personal management, recruiting and retaining help. I think that I lack in a lot of areas, but that is one area that I excel in.”

A total of eight residents have departed from HLRC since it was announced that the center was attempting to become exclusively an assisted living facility. HLRC currently has 36 residents and when at capacity, can accommodate around 70 people (52 on the skilled nursing side.) Murray said he has received several calls from former residents and their families since it was announced that HLRC would not become just an assisted living center and Robinson said there is a chance former residents could come back.

“I think there is a little bit of uncertainty still there,” Murray said of those who could perhaps return to Phillips County. “I think the families are being a little bit cautious and I don’t blame them. It has also been terrible for the residents and the staff.”

Robinson said the HLRC Board of Directors are thrilled to have Murray as the new administrator and said that since the public meeting held on Sept. 19, when new board members were added, there has been a number of meetings by the board as they try to remedy HLRC’s problems.

“We want to see [HLRC] succeed, very much,” she said. “I think everyone on the board has a loved one [at HLRC] or has had one. These decisions have been difficult and it is not one thing or one person who has put us in these financial difficulties, it has been several things over the years. Please hang in there with us, we are doing the best we can with the best intentions.”


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