The Seward Phoenix Log - News of the Eastern Kenai Peninsula since 1966

By Tommy Wels
Seward Phoenix LOG 

Providence will wait to make decision on Mountain Haven


Tommy Wells

Providence Seward Medical Center Administrator Joe Fong discusses plans for Mountain Haven with the Seward City Council.

When it comes to the re-basing and census issues facing Seward's Mountain Haven facility, the best course of action, according to Providence Seward Medical & Care Center Administrator Joe Fong, is to not do anything ... yet.

Fong informed members of the Seward City Council that the hospital administration was postponing any decisions until 2018, to enable hospital officials to study any potential changes.

"Just to try and hit the high point real quickly, we wanted to take a look at the finance pieces to see if our census and number of licensed beds have any impact on the reimbursement calculation. The short answer: There is a very minimal impact. From that, it is our recommendation that we want to take until 2018 to make any decisions on long-term licensing. That gives us some additional time to build census and additional analysis on the finance pieces."

"As mentioned," Fong said, "our census has slowly declined over the years." Some residents have died, he said; others have been transferred to new long-term care facilities elsewhere in the state. Currently the 40-bed facility has 27 residents, down from a high of 38 in 2012.

Fong said Mountain Haven staff have looked into ways to improve the census with mixed results. Many of the new residents recruited over the past few years have since left. And, he said, many of the patients referred to the facility do not meet the nursing home requirements.

To help the facility, the hospital administration has indicated it could change its licensing to allow for assisted living. Fong noted that almost one-quarter of all the referrals to Mountain Haven were ineligible because their medical or behavioral psychiatric needs exceeded the level of care Mountain Haven offered, or didn't meet the level of care for a nursing home.

"That is where we look at possibly adding assisted living and adding services," Fong said. "We have also taken into consideration the other medical providers in the community and what would be reasonable for them to support."

Changing to an assisted living facility would require a change of licensing for Mountain Haven.

However, Fong noted, "It would meet a need that is currently underserved in the community, and could provide a home for a portion of these clients."

"From an operations standpoint, what we are working toward is to continue to evaluate and add both behavorial and medical services that would broaden the scope of services at Mountain Haven (and) allow us to admit more of these elders, but to also allow us to evaluate assisted living as a new and separate service."

Noting that the impact of current re-basing and reimbursement calculation plays a small role in the facility's overall budget, Fong said postponing a decision on Mountain Haven until 2018 would not have a detrimental effect,

"We were able to clarify the 85-percent rule. As you may have heard, it (the 85-percent rule) applies only to the capital portion of our reimbursement ,. So if our total amount isn't there, only the smaller portion that is related to capital is reduced."

Fong said administrators have looked at the potential impact on the financial situation of converting one of the four lodges to an assisted living facility.

"Our ideal scenario would be (to) be able to build our census above 33 and maintain that," he said. "That maximizes our operating as a nursing home and does cover our financial obligations and debt service."

Fong said that although administrators will work toward building the census, they also have a responsibility to look at potential changes if they aren't successful in increasing the number of residents.


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