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Published: Friday, 11/14/2008

Ottawa County nursing home may face cuts after levy fails

BY CHAUNCEY ALCORN
BLADE STAFF WRITER

OAK HARBOR - Nurses and staff at Riverview Healthcare Campus in this Ottawa County village are concerned that their jobs may be on the line after the failure of a Nov. 4 replacement levy to increase county funding for the facility.

Campus Administrator Kendra German said the county-owned nursing home is losing $1 million every year because of a lack of funding from Medicaid.

"Over half of our residents here are on Medicaid and it costs Riverview a total of $220 per day per resident for all of their services," she said. "That includes their meals, laundry services, and then of course, nursing and nurse aides."

But the state Medicaid program only covers about $160 per resident per day, she said.

"What the [Nov. 4] levy would've done is help us to make up that $60 shortfall for each of those Medicaid residents," Ms. German said.

The 0.75-mill levy would have cost an estimated $22 per year for the owner of a $100,000 home, an increase of about $8 from the present 0.5-mill levy, which generated $700,000 to $750,000 annually.

The replacement levy would have generated about $1.2 million per year.

Because voters rejected the replacement levy, the campus will miss out on the additional $450,000 a year.

The facility also will lose revenue from the current levy, which expires Dec. 31.

Ms. German said the situation leaves administrators with limited options and laying off county employees is a possibility.

"It's possible, but I'm not sure of that either," she said.

"We will probably present the commissioners with some options and it's really up to them which options they decide to choose. We're still kind of brainstorming and looking where cuts can be made," she said.

James Sass, president of the Ottawa County commissioners, said layoffs will be a last resort, but that without major cuts, there will be a huge budget shortfall in 2009.

"That's a lot of money to make up," he said. "It doesn't matter if we put a levy on for March, May or November, we won't get any money from that until 2010

"The last thing we want to do is do anything that directly affects resident care. We're committed to keeping the facility open," he said.

"Anywhere we can tighten our belts, we will, but if it comes to possible layoffs, we certainly can't rule that possibility out."

Mr. Sass said the Riverview Healthcare Campus has been owned and operated by the county for 138 years.

It employs about 200 part time and full-time employees.

Contact Chauncey Alcorn at:

calcorn@theblade.com

or 419-724-6168.



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