County nursing home to offer respiratory therapy

County nursing home to offer respiratory therapy

URBANA — Long-discussed respiratory therapy services could be offered at the Champaign County Nursing Home as early as next Monday, the county nursing home board of directors was told Monday.

Nursing home manager Scott Gima said he believes the service will increase the home's census and improve its financial standing. Hospitals will be more likely to send rehabilitating patients to the county nursing home with the change, he said.

"It will increase the census because it will increase the quality of the care we're providing," he said. "Now, because hospitals are being penalized for readmissions — and respiratory therapy issues are a big percentage of those readmissions — it now is financially viable for us to provide that service.

"If I have my hospital CEO hat on, I'm going to start profiling nursing homes. Which are the best performing homes that will mimimize readmissions? If I see a nursing home with a respiratory therapy program that will be able to treat pneumonia, congestive heart failure, et cetera, I'm going to be apt to send more admissions to that facility."

The nursing home will pay a vendor, Alliance Rehab of Oakbrook, $45 an hour for the service that will be provided to patients on a full-time basis Monday through Friday.

But Gima said the nursing home expects to recoup the cost through more admissions and greater Medicare reimbursements.

The nursing home board also unanimously approved a compensation package for Karen Noffke, who became administrator of the nursing home in December. Noffke had been the nursing home's director of nursing.

She will be paid a base salary of $100,000 a year. With other benefits included, Noffke's routine employment costs will total $107,650 a year and as much as $122,650 if she opts for a maximum 401(k) match.

Gima described the package as "a little bit above the average" for an area nursing home administrator, but noted the Champaign County home is larger than most. The compensation package does not require the approval of the county board.

In other action, Gima said that the home's average daily census in November dropped to 205.2, down from 211.9 in October, but that it still was higher than the November 2011 census of 201.1. December's census was estimated to be about 205.

Gima noted that the nursing home finished the calendar year with a fund balance of $1.37 million, up from about $450,000 a year earlier. Projections by the MPA, the nursing home's private management firm, show that the institution could finish this calendar year with $2 million.

But Gima said that projection assumes continued on-time Medicaid payments by the state. That isn't likely, he admitted.

"We're 99 percent sure we'll be hearing about payment delays in the next month," he said. "I don't know when we'll be hearing about payment delays but all of our (nursing home) association people are telling us they're coming."

The nursing home board also elected new officers, naming Cathy Emanuel its chair, Robert Palinkas its vice chair and LaShundra Hambrick as secretary.