County-owned nursing and assisted living centers might end the fiscal year owing the county $700,000 beyond their budgeted subsidy, a consultant told officials Thursday.
Representatives of the private firm LW Consulting came before Frederick County commissioners to talk about the challenges of collecting payments due to Citizens Care and Rehabilitation Center and Montevue Assisted Living.
Commissioners President Blaine Young said he was particularly concerned that of the $6.4 million owed to the county-owned facilities, about $1.8 million was more than seven months overdue.
Steve Ryan, chief financial officer with LW, said collection efforts are making headway, but he projected that by the fiscal year’s end the centers would still owe the county $700,000 in cash assistance. The financial aid is in addition to the $4.2 million subsidy the county budgeted to give the facilities in fiscal 2013, he said.
Young said he does not fault LW for the centers’ financial woes.
“I know you’ve made recommendations, and some of them have fallen on deaf ears. This board needs to hear those recommendations,” Young told LW representatives Thursday.
LW has estimated that with significant changes at the two facilities, Citizens could pull almost $879,000 in profits in fiscal 2014, though Montevue would still come up short by $1.1 million.
The board of trustees for the centers has not been willing to make the deficit-cutting adjustments, Young said in an interview after the meeting.
Recently, the county’s look at selling the facilities has strained the relationship between the commissioners and board of trustee members, some of whom say Citizens and Montevue haven’t gotten a fair chance to show financial viability.
Young said Thursday that with the trustees’ inaction, the commissioners must think about taking matters into their own hands.
Sonja Sperlich, board of trustees president, said Young is “totally incorrect” that her panel has slowed progress on the budgetary plan drawn up by LW.
“LW is responsible for the development of those numbers and the implementation,” Sperlich said. “The county, as the owner, needs to ensure that LW does that. The board (of trustees) in its oversight role is going to be also holding the feet of LW to the fire.”
Adjusting the centers’ staffing and the number of indigent Montevue residents could help repair the deficits, LW has advised. While Montevue now serves 60 individuals who cannot afford to pay their way, the firm’s financial plan calls for cutting this total to 38 and giving the other 37 beds to unsubsidized residents.
Lori Depies, county manager, cautioned that the decision to serve fewer needy individuals at Montevue would be difficult and would not be made overnight. The centers would have to wait for residents to leave before replacing them with private-pay individuals, Depies said.
As it considers selling the centers, the county this week received final offers from two bidders, Aurora Health Management and NMS Healthcare, Depies reported.
After reviewing the offers, an evaluation committee will recommend the bidder the commissioners should choose if they decide to proceed with a sale, Depies wrote in an email.
Follow Bethany Rodgers on Twitter @BethRodgersFNP.