Posted Thursday, July 2nd, 2015

The Morris County Freeholders have authorized a new assessment of operations at the county owned Morris View Healthcare Center, to look for potential costs savings for taxpayers while also seeking to  continued quality care for patients.

The county administration will issue a Request for Proposals in July for a health care consultant to undertake the latest review of the healthcare center, which is located in Morris Township. The consultant will be chosen later this summer, with a review expected to take about two months.

Freeholders Authorize New Assessment of Operations at Morris View Healthcare Center

Morris County Administrator John Bonanni and Morris County Human Services Director Jennifer Carpinteri have briefed the Morris View Advisory Council and patients’ family members on the planned review. An explanatory letter also has been sent to all family members

Expected reductions in future Medicaid reimbursements and a possible 2016 loss of state “peer grouping’’ funding (established by the state to help county nursing homes offset costs that private facilities don’t face, such as pensions for their public workers), combined with federal and state government policies that have led to a move away from placing patients in more costly long-term nursing care, have made it essential for the county to take a thorough look at Morris View.

As a result, the freeholders have decided to undertake an operations and options analysis at the 283-bed facility, to ensure that the current high quality of care is maintained and/or improved for residents while providing the county with options aimed at meeting current and future budget requirements.

“We need to be fully educated to allow us to make the best, most informed decisions when it comes to the future of Morris View, which has long been a valuable asset to our community,’’ said Freeholder Hank Lyon, who is the county governing board’s liaison to Morris View. “We aren’t going into this review with any preconceived notions but, in order to have a meaningful review, we have to put every possibility on the table.’’  

“We certainly are not going to do anything that should alarm patients and their families, nor the very dedicated staff at Morris View,’’ said Freeholder Director Kathy DeFillippo. “But there is a definite need for a thorough information update, especially as we face some important changes in Medicaid funding that could affect future revenues at Morris View.

Since 2005, Morris County has commissioned independent consultants and experts to perform various analyses of the facility and make recommendations, the last one being done in 2010. They have resulted in improved and more efficient and cost-effective operations at Morris View. 

Resultant changes have included outsourcing of housekeeping, laundry, dietary and other services, an increase in census and Medicare A revenues, implementation of management efficiencies, a reduction of overtime, and less reliance on nurses from outside agencies to staff the facility. 

The freeholders voted 6-1 to hire a consultant, with Freeholder John Cesaro dissenting.

As part of the review, the consultant will be asked to examine how other New Jersey counties have handled their nursing homes and take a detailed look at data from previous studies done for Morris County. All steps of the review process, starting at the RFP process, will include participation by the Morris View Advisory Committee, including family members, stressed county officials.

“We are taking a collaborative approach,’’ said Carpinteri. “This will be a true partnership with family members involved in the process. And it’s important to stress that whatever steps are taken will ensure that we maintain or improve our current high quality of care for our patients.’’

Morris View Healthcare Center provides a diverse level of care for those in need of short-term medical, therapeutic and continuous care within the skilled nursing setting

The 2015 budget for Morris View is about $21 million, with $5.8 million paid by taxpayers, who subsidize the facility. The facility has 283 licensed beds and is currently operating near capacity.