Written by Cynthia L. Jacoby
October 15, 2013
The cost of living at Riverview Healthcare Campus near Oak Harbor is going up next month.
The Ottawa County Commissioners recently voted unanimously to raise prices from $220 to $232 for a semi private room and from $240 to $252 for a private room. The change takes effect Nov. 1.
The county has been slowly bumping the costs annually to cover daily operating costs such nursing, meals, activities and nursing care.
“It’s not unusual to raise rates each year,” said Commissioner Jim Sass, president of the board of commissioners. “It’s better to raise the rates a little each year than to bump it a large amount in a single year.
In 2012, the national average for daily costs for nursing home care was $248 for a private room and $222 for a semi-private room, according to the MetLife Market Survey of nursing home, assisted living, adult day services and home care costs.
Kendra German, Riverview’s nursing home administrator for the past eight years, said the daily expenses add up to about $235. She said a private room costs slightly more because the single resident doesn’t share the costs of utilities and other amenities with others.
She noted the administration considered the tough economy a few years ago when the rates only went up $5 a day.
“But we are still feeling the effects of that, even if it seems like such a small amount,” German said.
Riverview’s roots date back to the mid-1960s. Renovation and other construction continued in segments until the 1990s.
Upkeep of the buildings largely relies on the Riverview levy. Four years ago, voters struck an unexpected blow when they voted down a 0.75-mill levy, a combination of a half mill renewal levy and a quarter mill new levy. Of the $1.2 million expected to be generated about $450,000 would have been new monies. That cash was needed to help cover costs Medicaid doesn’t pick up. At the time, the federal program was only reimbursing $160 of daily costs, leaving the senior care facility to cough up the rest.
“That was one of the worst years of my life. I hope not to relive it. I don’t want to have to go through that again,” German said.
Even so, she and staff learned a valuable lesson from the decision. They buckled down on expenses and started paying close attention to things like shutting off lights in unused rooms and maximizing staff services. They also avoided major employee changes by reviewing the home’s daily census numbers and closing unused sections.
“It’s made us more responsible with the money we have. We have to watch our pennies every day. Because pennies add up to thousands of dollars over time,” the administrator said.
The nursing home’s four open units can house up to 121. Currently, resident count stands at 110, German said. Two stations remain closed.
Community accessibility to other things such as home health care, rehabilitation services, assisted play a major role in the census fluctuations, she noted. “There are so many options out there now,” she explained.
Still, German believes the home has a top level of staff and services that’ll rival other sites. She encourages community members to stop by to check out services or take part in the number of events staged to bring residents together with the rest of the community. Summer time brought outside barbecues and the big Halloween bash that attracts hundreds is just around the corner.
That’s just the type of fanfare and community exposure German aims for as she sets her sights on the 2014 senior levy campaign.
Achieving her goal may rely on removing one key misconception, she insisted.
“Riverview does not get any money from the general fund. Riverview completely stands alone on the private pay, the Medicare, the Medicaid and the levy it gets. In fact, we pay into the general fund for some of the services we receive from the county.
“That’s something I really want people to know.”