Home Nursing home Lincoln Nursing Home Chooses Less Staffing Path by Reducing Beds

Lincoln Nursing Home Chooses Less Staffing Path by Reducing Beds

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Oct. 15 — A long-term care home in Lincoln opts for a less staff-intensive course as it cuts beds and continues to operate as an assisted living facility in an industry plagued by staff shortages.

Colonial Healthcare’s parent company said this week that the facility would cease to operate as a nursing home, citing insufficient reimbursement for the state’s Medicaid program services and a reluctance by employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19 before. Governor Janet Mills’ vaccine mandate. for healthcare workers takes effect later this month.

The reduction in beds and the change follow recent announcements of three nursing homes – located in Bingham, Whitefield and Deer Isle – that they are considering closing, with staff shortages a dominant factor. An assisted living facility in Biddeford is also planning to close.

The impending vaccination mandate and the COVID-19 pandemic, in which nursing homes have become sites of major coronavirus outbreaks, have exacerbated long-term staff shortages in long-term care. Most nursing homes cited these factors as reasons for employee departures in a summer survey by the Maine Health Care Association, the home lobbying organization.

Some 85.8% of nursing home workers had been vaccinated against COVID-19 by the end of September. Friday is the last day for healthcare workers to obtain the Johnson & Johnson single-injection vaccine to comply with the mandate, which the state will begin to enforce on October 29.

The vaccination rate at Colonial Healthcare, which experienced a coronavirus outbreak of around three dozen cases over the summer as the delta variant increased, was 69% at the end of last month. This outbreak is the result of the virus being introduced into the facility by unvaccinated people, said Andrea Otis-Higgins, chief operating officer of First Atlantic Healthcare, the parent company of Colonial.

Going forward as an assisted living facility means Colonial Healthcare will have residents with less intensive needs than those requiring care at the nursing home level. The state’s immunization mandate for healthcare workers will still apply to staff, but assisted living residents don’t need as many staff to care for them, according to Maine Health Care Association.

“The needs of residents will not be so acute, and this is by design in Maine,” said Angela Westhoff, president and CEO of the association. “Maine reserves its retirement homes for the sickest of the sick.”

Nursing homes must have one direct care worker for every five residents during the day, one for 10 at night, and one for every 15 residents at night, according to state rules.

“Staffing levels are not the same in assisted living as what is required in nursing homes because the level of care required differs,” Westhoff said.

Colonial Healthcare, Lincoln’s only retirement home, currently has 60 nursing home care beds and 26 assisted living beds. Colonial plans to increase its number of assisted living beds, with memory care as a potential service, Otis-Higgins said. First Atlantic will allow employees affected by the end of nursing home services to work in an assisted living facility in Lincoln or other company facilities, she said.

First Atlantic is working with the state’s Medicaid program to secure a reimbursement rate that allows it to expand assisted living services, according to Otis-Higgins, who described the factors that led to the Colonial changes. as “a catastrophic business failure”.

“We had more leaks in the dike than we had fingers to plug them,” she said.

A number of nursing homes in Maine have converted to assisted living in the past, although these changes occurred before the COVID-19 pandemic. While Lincoln will see the loss of nursing home beds and residents will need to be relocated, it is encouraging that the facility is not closing, Westhoff said.

“The conversion ensures that residents of the community will have access to a viable option of long-term assisted living care,” she said.