The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

January 29, 2013

Dialysis center opens at nursing home

By CARL E. FEATHER - cfeather@starbeacon.com
Star Beacon

KINGSVILLE TOWNSHIP —  A new dialysis center at the Ashtabula County Nursing and Rehabilitation Center is treating its first patient, commissioners learned Monday.

The patient, who is not a resident of the home, began treatment at the DaVita center on Jan. 21 as part of the licensing process. Mary Lou Clatterbuck, administrator of the nursing home, told commissioners in a work session that the patient will be treated for six weeks, during which time the state will make a random inspection of the facility. At the end of that inspection, the operator will know if the outpatient service can begin full-time operation.

The dialysis company is leasing space from the county to provide the service, which will be available to residents and non-residents. The lease will provide income for the nursing home, but the bigger benefit could be attracting more residents to the facility.

Maureen Wern, a member of the Generations Healthcare team that manages the home for the county, told commissioners that having the DaVita dialysis center on site could become a marketing tool for the facility.

“So many residents who live in other nursing homes have to travel to dialysis in a van,” she said.

The census at the home has been holding steady for the last three years; Clatterbuck told commissioners that it ended the year at 124 residents and briefly saw the census flirt with 130 in December.

 Increasing the census is a way the county can make up for loss in Medicaid and Medicare reimbursements. Generations’ management team presented a financial forecast for 2013 that mirrors 2012’s performance: essentially a break-even scenario unless the federal budget ends up going over the fiscal cliff, in which case Medicare reimbursements could be cut 2 percent. That would be an impact of about $42,000 in revenue, according to the team’s forecast.

Concurrent with watching the bottom line on the operation, commissioners have asked the management team to come up with a prioritized list of capital projects. Smolen Engineering, as part of its review of most county-owned buildings several years ago, pointed out serious issues with the nursing home’s flat roofs, problems that will require millions of dollars to address.

Other issues that need attention include updating nursing stations, interior painting and adding bathrooms in order to create more private rooms. Commissioners and the management team also discussed what to do with the vacant D Wing and obsolete equipment.

Money for the projects could come from the sale of excess certificates of needs (nursing home beds). The county sold its excess certificates last year but the transaction has not been approved by the state, reported Phillip Coury, a Generations team member.