Care Center has been hurting financially for years.

    Skilled nursing facilities across the country are facing many challenges.  RiverView Health’s Care Center is no exception, the Crookston healthcare provider said Tuesday while announcing a major reduction in the number of beds in its RiverView Care Center nursing home, in favor of an increased focus on memory care. The changes will take effect Dec. 1.

     Financially, rates for reimbursement of skilled care have declined over the years, while the cost of care continues to increase.  Cost increases are driven by general inflation, employee wages and benefits, resident needs, and the increasing complexity of government regulation.
From 64 to 24 beds
     Currently, RiverView Care Center is licensed for 64 beds. That number will decrease to 24 as residents and their families are aided by resident transition teams to relocate to other long term care facilities, RiverView's release states. Resident transition teams have been established for each resident to guide them through the transition process.

     The current RiverView Memory Care Unit will increase capacity from 22 to 24 beds with the completion of a renovation project and necessary approvals.

     There are several reasons why RiverView has decided to turn its attention to memory care, according to Carrie Michalski, vice president of operations. “Recent analysis of community needs shows a shortage in memory care beds and an oversupply of general long-term care beds,’’ Michalski said. “Specializing in memory care allows RiverView Health to address an identified community need.’’

     RiverView Health currently operates a memory care program in the 2003 Care Center addition. Memory Care residents will remain in that addition. The newer addition features a neighborhood atmosphere with all private rooms, centralized dining and gathering spaces, the release states, and accessible bathroom facilities to accommodate handicapped individuals.

     The use of the 1970s-constructed space will be discontinued. Resident rooms in the older corridors are undersized and require additional insulation, new windows, new furnishings and bathroom expansions. RiverView is evaluating options for how to utilize that space to expand other health care offerings.
Numbers tell the tale
     From 2000 to 2010, RiverView Care Center lost more than $12 million, mostly due to the daily difference between Medicaid rates reimbursed and actual costs of providing care. The rates are lower per day than actual costs.

     For more than ten years, RiverView Health has experienced significant financial challenges in the long term care service line.  The operations of RiverView Care Center have been heavily subsidized by the rest of the organization for many years. Due to the significant changes in payment rates over time, increasing costs of operation, and the profound uncertainty about the future of health care payments, the leadership team has recommended and the board of directors has approved a restructuring plan for the Care Center.

     “We cannot stress strongly enough how difficult this decision was -- for the last 10 years we have struggled to balance our commitments to those we serve with the need for responsible financial management,” Michalski said.

     Ross Matlack, presiden/CEO of RiverView Health, commended the staff of the Care Center. "They have always been committed to providing our residents with great care. This unfortunate business decision is not a reflection on our staff or the care they provided, which has been fantastic," Matlack said. "We are faced with hard economic realities, and we can no longer afford to subsidize this service.”