FMDH Commits To Matching Valley View Levy
May 18, 2022
Valley View Nursing Home (VVNH) administrator Wes Thompson spoke to the Frances Mahon Deaconess Hospital Board on April 27 requesting consideration to aid the nursing home financially in their operating expenses. In 2019, the home was cash flowing positive, however as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the nursing home was $1.2 million short in 2020 and $1 million short in 2021. In addition to asking the FMDH board as well as other entities, Valley County voters are also being asked to support a three-year, $300,000 levy to help keep the nursing home open. Absentee ballots were mailed out last week for the June 7 primary election.
According to meeting minutes from the meeting, as of April 27, 71 percent of the residents are on Medicaid, and VVNH’s cost per resident per day is $370 to $390, however the state reimbursement is only $211 per day. However neighboring states have a higher Medicaid reimbursement, with Washington currently at $350 per day reimbursement while Oregon has a $400 per day reimbursement. At this time, the Home has resources to remain open for approximately one year and three months, due to Valley County gifting the home with $500,000 and the county has committed to giving an additional $500,000 after July 1. If the nursing home were to close however, Thompson anticipates only being able to find placement for 15 of their 55 residents, as most facilities are not accepting bariatric patients, patients who have experienced abuse or those with mental issues.
Thompson reiterated the main issue is state and federal reimbursement and any financial help from FMDH will aid in sustaining them until “there is light at the end of the tunnel with state and federal support.” He also continues to check the Provider Relief Phase 4 Funding on a weekly basis to see if they qualify.
After hearing Thompson, FMDH CEO Randy Holm stated he would recommend trying to help Valley View as it would be very expensive if it were to close and then try to open it back up again for the community. “We have a role to meet that need if VVNH is not there and this would buy us time in hopes that they can make it,” he stated. In order to incentive the tax levy to pass by Valley County voters, Holom would like FMDH to match the tax levy, $300,000, for up to three years. It would max at three years and then financials would be looked at every single year thereafter to decide on the continued gifting. “Our contribution would be dependent on the vote passing through,” he stressed.
Board member Don Fast then made the motion, based on Holom’s recommendation to mirror the three-year tax levy and if it passes, FMDH would give VVNH $300k for up to three years with an annual evaluation of VVNH and a report of how they are doing. The motion was amended by Patrick Menge, stating at the end of two years, FMDH leadership will make a plan and present it to the Board of how to meet the need for long-term care for those who reside in VVNH should their facility cease to be able operate financially. Board member Fast was agreeable to the amendment and the motion to match the tax levy funding for $300k for up to three years was unanimously approved.
In addition to helping fund the nursing home, it was decided the hospital’s Governance Committee will continue to pursue advocacy in the legislature and the Board is committed to address the lack of funding that state government is failing to address.
“Valley View Home did a tremendous job in establishing a balanced budget in 2019. It was a success story that was years in the making. Then the rug got pulled out from beneath the skilled nursing facility as the pandemic took hold. The Board, administrator and staff have poured their hearts and souls into tackling every challenge that arises whilst maintaining a high quality of care for our loved ones, but they are facing a near-term fiscal battle. It’s our goal to bring back the stability of 2019. We have a road map in place. Now we are asking for our community to give us a fighting chance to bring it to fruition,” stated Haylie Shipp, with the Vote Yes Valley View campaign.
“The Valley View Board has been working tirelessly to come up with funding options for the facility and are aware that the only chance we have of surviving long term is through increased Medicaid reimbursement through our state government. We are working with the state legislators to bring awareness to this problem, not only for ourselves, but for all nursing homes. We are requesting another tax levy, which will be on the June ballot. The hospital board has agreed to match the tax levy funds, if the levy is approved,” stated VVNH Board President Lisa Wiltfong.
The FMDH Board of Trustees stresses that, in their opinion, the situation VVNH is in is due to policy problems, not management or COVID, and that the responsibility for the situation rests firmly with the state representatives “who have so far refused to adjust the reimbursement rates for nursing home to a viable level and have left additional federal match on the table in the process. They are forcing taxpayers and local businesses, your local hospital, to step in where they have refused to act.”
The FMDH Board of Trustees encourages those who want to do something to help, in addition to voting, to contact Senator Mike Lane at [email protected] and Representative Rhonda Knudsen at [email protected]
The Vote Yes Valley View Campaign is also hosting community meetings to get questions answered. There will be one in Glasgow, May 19, 6 p.m., at the Cottonwood Inn, May 24, 6 p.m., at Opheim School and May 25 they will be on Live Under the Big Sky on KLTZ featuring listener questions. You can submit questions by emailing [email protected]