Thursday, March 24th, 2016

BOARD VOWS TO WORK CLOSELY WITH MORRIS VIEW FAMILIES

The Morris County Board of Freeholders last night passed a resolution that directed the County Administration to pursue several initiative related to the county’s Morris View Healthcare Center, including potential leasing of the facility to a health care company, but stressed that any such review be done in close coordination with families of patients, staff, and advocates for Morris View.

Morris View

As part of that effort, the freeholders directed the Administrator to develop Morris View budget projections for the next several years to help them determine the likely financial impact of the nursing home on the county government budget and its expected impact on all taxpayers.

 Importantly, the county governing board stated in the resolution that “it is not inclined to pursue the option of selling the facility.’’

The Freeholder Board stressed its continuing strong commitment to ensuring good quality long-term care services for Morris County’s aged and disabled population at the 283-bed Morris View. But the board cautioned that decreases in state and federal aid will increase the annual deficit to operate Morris View, with the bill for county taxpayers to subsidize the operation to rise significantly over the next several years.

The 2015 budget for Morris View was $21 million, with $5.8 million paid by county taxpayers. Due to reductions in state and Medicaid funding, the cost to taxpayers in 2016 budget is expected to be $7 million to $8 million this year.  

“While I continue to stress that the freeholder board has not made any decision regarding the future of Morris View, we are continuing to move ahead in a responsible manner to review potential options for the county nursing facility,’’ said Freeholder Director Kathy DeFillippo.

“We intend to get as much information as possible to guide any potential decisions. But, rest assured, we are not going to do anything that should alarm patients and their families, nor the staff at Morris View.’’

Morris View 2

Therapy room at Morris View

“We have an obligation to all county residents to take a good, hard look at Morris View,’’ added Deputy Freeholder Director Hank Lyon. “I can assure you that we intend to be fully educated to allow us to make the best, most informed decisions, and that includes working closely with the families of patients and the long-time friends of Morris View.’’

 

The Board of Freeholders, in its resolution, directed County Administrator John Bonanni to:

  1. Develop a three-year Morris View Healthcare Center facility budget that ensures that the 283 beds remain active and does not in any way compromise the quality of resident care;
  1. Analyze available research and report on any potential revenue enhancements that the Morris View Healthcare Center may be able to receive;
  1. Engage professional staff to meet with Morris View Healthcare staff and family members of Morris View residents, to get their advice and potential concerns related to any potential outsourcing initiative, and to identify appropriate safeguards that could be put in place if at any future point an operational transition of Morris View was to occur;
  1. Along with at least three members of the Morris View Advisory Committee or family group, visit three other former county owned nursing home facilities in New Jersey that have undergone an operational transition, and summarize those findings for presentation to the Freeholder Board, and
  1. Continue to fully engage Morris View Healthcare Center’s staff in the areas related to the development of anticipated future budgets, opportunities for revenue enhancements, and any potential outsourcing initiatives that may be discussed;
  1. Further explore for presentation to the Freeholder Board the feasibility of a leasing option as noted in a Morris View Operation and Options Analysis that was recently done for the county. That presentation would include, but not be limited to, developing a Request for Proposals from outside companies to manage the 283 resident beds. But, to the greatest degree possible, it would address as many of the Advisory Committee’s and family groups’ concerns as possible, and would require continued strong family input into any future Morris View operations.
Music program at Morris View

Music program at Morris View

The freeholders earlier this month released a study they authorized in 2015 as part of their long-term assessment of operations at Morris View, to look for potential costs savings for taxpayers while also seeking to ensure continued quality care for patients.

The study by Marcus and Millichap of Illinois included a detailed analysis of the nursing home, which is located in Morris Township. It provided the freeholders with a wealth of data though it did not recommend a future course of action.

However, it laid out three scenarios: Continued status quo county operation of the nursing home; sale of the facility; and leasing of the nursing beds while the county maintains ownership and maintenance of the facility.  A copy of the study can be found at: https://morriscountynj.gov/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/Morris-County-OOA.pdf

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, and implementation of management efficiencies.

As part of the latest review, the consultant was asked to examine how other New Jersey counties have handled their nursing homes. Several counties, including neighboring Sussex and Warren counties, have gotten out of the nursing home business.