Wednesday, March 2nd, 2016
The Morris County Freeholders have authorized the release of a study they authorized in 2015 as part of their long-term assessment of operations at the county owned Morris View Healthcare Center, 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.
Morris County Administrator John Bonanni and Morris County Human Services Director Jennifer Carpinteri yesterday briefed all Morris View employees on the study, and later held similar sessions for the Morris View Advisory Council and for patients’ family members.
A copy of the study can be found at: https://morriscountynj.gov/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/Morris-County-OOA.pdf
“It’s very important to understand that the freeholders have not made any decisions on a future course of action regarding Morris View,’’ said Freeholder Director Kathy DeFillippo. “Rest assured, we certainly are not going to do anything that should alarm patients and their families, nor the very dedicated staff at Morris View.
“But, as we said last summer, 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. This study is part of that effort.’’
Expected reductions in future Medicaid reimbursements and a loss of state “peer grouping’’ funding as of July 1, 2016 (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 last July announced they had 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 Deputy Freeholder Director Hank Lyon. “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.’’
The review process, will include participation by the Morris View Advisory Committee, including family members, stressed county officials.
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.
“We are taking a collaborative approach,’’ said Morris County Human Services Director Jennifer 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 was about $21 million, with $5.8 million paid by taxpayers, who subsidize the facility. Due to reductions in state and Medicaid funding, the cost to taxpayers in the 2016 budget is expected to be between $7 million and $8 million.
The facility has 283 licensed beds and is currently operating near capacity.