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Paynesville Press - August 3, 2005

Hospital board discusses decreasing nursing home occupancy

By Michael Jacobson

The Paynesville Area Hospital District Board of Directors took the following actions at their regular meeting Wednesday, July 27.

*The board heard a report prepared by staff members concerning trends in long-term care. PAHCS operates two long-term care facilities: Koronis Manor in Paynesville and Hilltop Care Center in Watkins.

The report stated that while Minnesota's older population will be growing through the year 2030, actual nursing home utilization is projected to decline. Occupancy rates in 2004 were 95.2 percent for the Koronis Manor and 91 percent for Hilltop Care Center, compared to the average of 93.9 percent for the east central region of Minnesota.

The length of stay in nursing homes is steadily decreasing, with the statewide median at 40 days. The median stay for Koronis Manor and Hilltop Care Center is only 28 days.

Projected occupancy rates for the current fiscal year for the Koronis Manor are 90.8 percent and Hilltop Care Center are 87.4 percent.

Operating profits for the two long term care facilities are not encouraging, according to chief financial officer Kirk Johnson. For 2005, the projected losses are $261,000 for the Koronis Manor and $450,000 for Hilltop Care Center.

"These losses reflect the lower occupancy rates and shorter stays in both facilities," said Johnson. "Long-term care facilities across the state are having the same kinds of financial problems that we are," he added.

The board has established a committee to examine its long-term care offerings and possibilities for revamping these offerings in light of a changing marketplace that offers seniors more choices for housing and health care.

*The board approved the financial report showing a net profit for June of $112,112, and a year-to-date net profit of $644,998.

*The board approved an agreement prepared by attorney general Mike Hatch regarding health care services offered to uninsured patients. The general theme of the agreement is based on the principal that the hospital bill should not stand in the way of health care for uninsured individuals. Uninsured individuals should receive the same discounts as the insurance companies, and billing and collecting from uninsured patients needs to be done according to ethical policies and procedures. Almost all of the agreement items are already in place, Johnson told the board.

*The board approved the annual evaluation of the PAHCS Quality Program. The evaluation reviews services provided by the Paynesville Area Health Care System (as the hospital district operates commercially) in the past 12 months, how those services comply with the mission statement of the system, and how those services provided by PAHCS served the community with the care given. The quality program is a requirement of critical-access designation.

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