Home Nursing home Gracedale Nursing Home on the mend; operational study not necessary – The Morning Call

Gracedale Nursing Home on the mend; operational study not necessary – The Morning Call


At its September 1 meeting, Northampton County Council introduced an order to conduct a comprehensive operational study of Gracedale Nursing Home. It looks like the board will vote at the September 15 meeting.

County council members have chosen an odd time to launch a study of Gracedale. After 2.5 years of battling a global pandemic and a national worker shortage, the facility is regaining its footing. The Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services recently raised Gracedale’s overall quality rating from one star to three stars. This calculation included a four-star rating for health inspection.

The administrators and staff of Gracedale have done an excellent job during a difficult time in history. It is very strange that the County Council has now chosen the moment to carry out an operational study. Investigations like these can be extremely expensive and do not always produce usable action items. Additionally, commissioners John Cusick and Lori Vargo Heffner recently said indicators show the facility is moving in the right direction.

In May, the board passed my “Saving Gracedale Again” resolution, which allocated $15 million in US bailout funds for retention bonuses, staffing bonuses, nursing care costs, and improvements. of the establishment’s fixed assets as well as the construction of a daycare centre. center.

Before spending hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars on an operational study, county council members should sit back and wait to see what kind of dividends those investments pay off.

One of the biggest problems faced by nursing homes during the pandemic was the lack of staff. This situation has not only affected long-term care facilities; this has impacted most industries. Gracedale, which serves the demographic groups most susceptible to respiratory viruses, has been particularly hard hit. Many employees left, but we were also blessed with a dedicated and heroic workforce who put in long hours caring for residents.

When the federal government demanded that Gracedale lay off unvaccinated employees or risk losing its funding, that also caused employees to leave. The resulting staff shortage created a problem with our calculation per patient day. The PPD measures the number of productive hours worked by nurses with direct patient care responsibilities. With a decline in staff, Gracedale’s PPD fell below the mandate of the Department of Health. To compensate, the establishment had no choice but to lower its census of residents.

Over the past few years, our human resources department has launched a truly impressive recruitment campaign for all departments: nursing, dietetics, office, housekeeping, etc.

Gracedale employees are county employees, which means they belong to a union and receive union benefits unlike most private nursing home employees. Gracedale employees receive pensions, prescription coverage, medical, dental, vision and life insurance.

Our administrators have developed more incentives, including a $2,500 annual bonus over the next four years, tuition assistance, and the opportunity to work part-time. Early indications are that awareness is working. Recently, Gracedale’s PPD rose to an average of 2.95, above the state’s 2.7 requirement. Certified Nursing Assistant courses at Gracedale are now full.

Administrator Jennifer Stewart-King reports that she has witnessed interest from outside agencies in providing staff members to the nursing home. As the economic fallout from the pandemic continues to diminish, we hope to once again be able to staff Gracedale at a sufficient level to handle its full census of 688 residents.

The Council should explain to ratepayers the benefits that an operational study would bring at this stage. Gracedale is the most regulated of all county departments in Northampton, subject to constant inspections and audits. If something in its operations was not done correctly, we would have already received a detailed report.

Government officials have a sacred duty to their constituents not to waste taxpayers’ money. In my opinion, an operational study of Gracedale will not give us any information that we do not already know.

Lamont McClure is the County Executive of Northampton.