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Wood County fires nursing home firm

BOWLING GREEN - Saying they want to improve operations at the Wood County Nursing Home, county commissioners have fired the Cincinnati management firm that has operated the home for 15 years.

The management agreement with Communicare Health Services was terminated effective today, according to county Administrator Andrew Kalmar. He said Communicare has not been “proactive” in its approach to running the 125-bed home.

“We feel as though we're almost treading water at the moment, and you can't tread water in the nursing home business or you'll get pulled under because it's a very competitive business,” he said.

A phone call to Communicare was not returned yesterday.

Commissioners hired Joe Joliff, administrator of the Wyandot County Nursing Home near Upper Sandusky, on a part-time basis to help them search for a new administrator and to work with the new manager on modernizing the nursing home and making it run more efficiently.

Mr. Jolliff will be paid $40,000 a year. He will be expected to spend at least eight hours a week at the nursing home and be available the rest of the week for meetings and telephone calls, Mr. Kalmar said.

Commissioners stressed that it is the management, not the quality of care, that has been troubled. In recent years, the nursing home on East Gypsy Lane has not been able to operate without money from the county's general fund. The average occupancy rate has been down, from 98.4 percent in 1994 to 86.4 percent last year.

Mr. Jolliff, who has run the Wyandot County Nursing Home without financial assistance from county commissioners for 19 years, is an outspoken proponent of using mechanical lifting equipment in nursing homes to reduce on-the-job injuries and to attract and retain employees.

After several years of research and employee involvement in the issue, the Wyandot County Nursing Home implemented a no-lift policy in October that has enabled it to greatly reduce employee injuries and attrition.

Mr. Jolliff spoke about the program at a forum Wood County commissioners held in March to address the local nursing home's future and examine whether the county should remain in the nursing home business.

Mr. Kalmar said commissioners have no plans to sell the nursing home.

“The commissioners know that Wood County has been in this business in one form or another for 130 years, and they have a commitment to the citizens of Wood County,” Mr. Kalmar said. “It is their intention to give everything they can in an effort to make sure the Wood County Nursing Home is successful.”

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