Thursday, February 10th, 2011

The Morris County Freeholders have decided they will continue to look for ways to enhance revenues and reduce operating costs at Morris View Healthcare Center under the facility’s current management structure rather than leasing Morris View to a third party.

Various options were presented to the freeholder board Feb. 9 by a consulting firm that conducted a financial and operational assessment of the facility at the request of the freeholders, who want to improve the financial performance of the county-owned skilled nursing facility thereby reducing the county’s monetary contribution, particularly in light of new cap law restrictions.

“With the new 2 percent cap law and other pressures on the county budget, we have to explore ways to lessen the county subsidy to Morris View,” said Freeholder Director William Chegwidden. “At the same time, whatever measures we take must not in any way have a negative impact on the outstanding quality of care that Morris View provides to its residents.”

The consulting firm, Complete Healthcare Resources-Eastern, Inc., of Dresher, PA., said in its report that revenues from Morris View could be enhanced by streamlining the admissions procedure to admit individuals quicker, and by establishing a business development team to improve marketing.

The recommendations also include having Morris View increase its census of Medicare Part A patients, with the potential of attracting more patients in need of short-term rehabilitation. Todd Wagner, vice president of Complete Healthcare Resources, and Ed Balliet, the firm’s regional vice president, recommended to the freeholders that the facility also accept payment from HMO and commercial insurance plans rather than only Medicaid, Medicare and private pay sources.

If all of the suggestions were successfully implemented, the consultants projected a yearly increase in revenues of $2.4 million.

Other recommendations endorsed by the freeholders include the possible outsourcing of some non-clinical functions. Currently, Morris View outsources its laundry, food and rehabilitation services.

The freeholders discounted the option of leasing Morris View to a third party, particularly after reviewing the pro forma financial statements that showed a county contribution would still be needed to offset the reduction in the Medicaid rate.

The consultant’s report further revealed that a third party operator would probably not be able to profitably operate the facility without making substantial cuts in operating expenses, including direct care staffing.

Morris County Administrator John Bonanni and Human Services Director Mary Jo Buchanan met with Morris View staff, residents and residents’ families to discuss the consultant’s report, as well as share the staff recommendations.

Freeholder John J. Murphy, liaison to the Department of Human Services, echoed the commitment to the facility, which is home to nearly 283 residents. Murphy said there is a need to balance these revenue enhancements and cost reductions with the mission of caring for seniors most in need.

A copy of the executive summary of the financial and operational assessment is available at http://www.morrishumanservices.org/dvs/morrisview.asp.