Bethlehem Press

Wednesday, February 22, 2017
Executive John Brown reports $800,000 profit at Gracedale. Executive John Brown reports $800,000 profit at Gracedale.

Northampton County--Gracedale has first profit since 2007

Tuesday, January 24, 2017 by Bernie O’Hare Special to the Bethlehem Press in Local News

Though final numbers are still pending, Executive John Brown reported to Northampton County Council Jan. 19 that he expects Gracedale, the county-owned nursing home, to finish 2016 about $800,000 in the black. If those numbers hold, it will be the first time since 2007 that the facility turned a profit.

Brown said the primary reason for this is an injection of $2.4 million of federal funds into the facility under a revived program that allows public nursing homes to pool their money and seek matching grants. Brown expects that program to continue this year. This profit excludes the money the county received from its recent sale of 37 nursing home bed licenses for slightly more than $800,000.

But it fails to include over $1.5 million in capital expenditures last year. Brown conceded that the nursing home would still show a loss if those figures were included. Brown stated the turnaround is the result of incremental changes made over the years to maximize population.

He said the challenge going forward is to maintain that bed count in a very competitive market. He indicated costs will continue to increase, but that revenue has been maximized. “It’s still a fragile entity,” he said, noting that “the slightest bump” could reverse the situation.

“This is a day I wasn’t sure I’d see,” said Council President John Cusick.

Census went down in December as a result of 32 deaths that month, which is higher than normal. Currently, there are about 20 fewer residents than Administrator Raymond Soto would like to see. Nationwide, he claimed that nursing homes were at their lowest occupancy level in he last quarter of 2016 than at any time since 2005.

Patients receiving one-to-one care have been reduced from ten to four.

Gracedale was fined $2,500 by the state Department of Health last month as a result of a caretaker’s decision to seek help when a resident threatened suicide in September. When left alone for a short period, the resident broke a magnifying glass and slit her wrists. According to Soto, the proper procedure would have been to remain with the resident and buzz for help. Soto remains concerned that the nursing home’s current 4-star rating from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) could be reduced to a 3-star rating, leading to lower reimbursements.