Valley View Home Obtains Another $500,000 From County
August 10, 2022
During their Discussion and Decision meeting on Aug. 3, the Valley County Commissioners in attendance, Commissioner Paul Tweten and Commissioner John Fahlgren, voted to provide Valley View Home another $500,000 appropriation to help keep the nursing home sustainable. Commissioner Mary Armstrong was absent from the meeting.
The money being appropriated by Valley County comes from American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) money which the county received from the federal government during the COVID-19 pandemic. The amount provided to the Home during the Aug. 3 meeting is in addition to the $500,000 ARPA appropriation the Valley County Commissioners provided to the nursing home earlier this year as well as the three year, $300,000 per year, levy Valley County voters approved in June, of which Frances Mahon Deaconess Hospital agreed to match upon approval from the voters.
Valley View Home’s administrator Wes Thompson explained to the Commissioners and members of the public who attended the meeting why he is asking for further funds for the Home. Though he admits the initial $500,000 issued by the Commissioners have helped provide more sustainment and the levy as well as the match is a huge win for the Home, the funds are not enough. The request for the additional $500,000 will provide Valley View Home what other skilled nursing facilities are not getting, time.
“Our goal right now, along with my board of directors and the legal team, we are aware that our only goal is to get to the biennium for legislation. We have to be able to financially sustain until July of next year. We believe this $500,000 will actually cap that if we mind our p’s and q’s, if things break down and we cannot replace, we can get to July,” explained Thompson.
According to Thompson, the consulting firm will have a completed Medicaid reimbursement rate study, specifically for skilled nursing services, which has been fought for since October of 2020. This rate study was supposed to have been initiated in late 2018, but according to Thompson, “they just kept kicking the ball down the road because they knew the numbers would not look good.” According to Thompson, right now the average Medicaid reimbursement rate is $212 dollars however the Home requires upwards at minimum $312 but there are some months it can be up to $390 depending on how many contract nursing staff is required.
At the time of the meeting, the Home loses on average, approximately $180 a day per resident, however the number changes based on a number of different factors, including additional expenses when COVID exposure occurs within the facility which increases payroll due to tasks taking longer as well as the need for additional staff. Every day the Home gets anywhere between three and 10 referrals for people outside of Valley County wanting to reside at Valley View Home, however Thompson has to pass on those referrals. “We have beds available for Valley County residents. If I get larger staff, that is not contracted, we would love to increase our census, but we, along with most other nursing homes right now, our doors are shut,” said Thompson.
Since January, seven facilities in the state have closed their doors due to not having the adequate funding to stay open. “We require this funding to stay sustainable while many more shut down. That will happen. There’s no way around it,” explained Thompson for the request of the additional $500,000. “It’s getting so bad in long-term care statewide and nationwide that administrators and directors and nursing are quitting left and right because they don’t want to be a part of a building that falls. It is so rough that there is a new federal guideline that just came out last week that says if you’re facility loses your administrator or director of nursing, we’re going to lower your quality measure rating and you’re going to get less reimbursement.”
Thompson stressed none of the staff at Valley View Home want to leave the facility and though they recognize they aren’t getting paid as much as their contracted colleagues, the Home has done some increases and provided bonuses when able. “We make sure they’re taken care of to the best of our ability. We want them to stay with us as well,” said Thompson.
After Thompson explained his request for the funding, he further added “We just want to survive and can be successful again. We can do it. We did it in ‘19. I know we can do it again.”
Commissioner Fahlgren acknowledged Thompson for the compelling story and appreciated him taking the time to explain the need for the additional $500,000. After going through the rest of the agenda for the meeting, Commissioner Tweten made the motion to provide $500,000 to Valley View Home and Commissioner Fahlgren seconded. Commissioner Tweten clarified the funds are money the County received is from the Federal government with the intent to help those affected by COVID.
Commissioner Fahlgren also commented stating when the money was first coming in and saw there was some flexibility in it’s uses, the thought was to possibly replace the gravel truck and discussed a few other things, however he stated “once we heard the situation that Valley View Home is in, it pretty much trumped everything else that we could think of.” Commissioner Tweten responded by stating “Those residents there, they were supporting this community years ago.”