Northampton County--Updating Gracedale’s financial health
A few short years ago, Northampton County officials voted to sell Gracedale, the county-owned nursing home. They were stopped by the citizens in a 2011 referendum.
Reforms were implemented to make the nursing home more solvent. A private administrator was hired. Unions surrendered $2.5millionin benefits every year. The census began to climb.
The Morning Call recently reported that Gracedale has finally turned the corner, and is projected to net between $1.6 and 2.4 million this year. But at a November 2 budget hearing, county officials were decidedly more cautious.
Gracedale Fiscal Administrator Peter Koorie said there could be a $500,000 profit.
“But we all know how the fourth quarter can change things,” warned Human Services Director Allison Frantz. Koorie then said that, if all goes well, the nursing home could earn $1 million.
Then Executive John Brown popped up to say that Gracedale is currently $1.6 million to the good, but should have expenses of $1-1.5 million in the last quarter.
“It could be neutral to positive through the end of the year,” he said.
For a nursing home that has been leaking money, this is remarkably good news. But it’s not $1.6-2.0 million.
Brown also warned, “We kind of hit the pinnacle.” He believes it is probably impossible to squeeze any more revenue out of the nursing home than is already generated.
“We’re at a revenue generation cap,” he said. He added that everything at Gracedale is “fragile,” and a single event can reverse this trend.
Brown also noted that the county must spend between $1.5 and $2 million in capital improvements at Gracedale. That is not counted in Gracedale’s budget, but the reality is that the nursing home would have to earn $2 million before it could be called revenue neutral.