Archive for Wednesday, January 9, 2002

Counnty infirmary takes new direction

January 9, 2002

The county's infirmary is shaping up.

On Monday afternoon, Jeffrey Phillips, whose firm, Citadel Holdings, is negotiating a 15-year lease agreement for the county-owned nursing home, led Leavenworth County commissioners on a tour. In the home's south wing, Phillips pointed out the recently touched up paint on door jambs, freshly polished floors and repainted doors.

Commissioner Bob Adams held Lois Richardson's hand as they visited

Commissioner Bob Adams held Lois Richardson's hand as they visited Monday.

"All that you're seeing has cost us $250 maybe," Phillips said. "We've cleaned the floors and put on a little bit of paint, all it needed was some TLC."

At Thursday's commission meeting, county commissioners will review a lease with Phillips that should relieve the county from the financial drain and responsibility of operating the infirmary.

Leavenworth County Clerk Linda Scheer said that in 2001, transfers from the county's general fund to the infirmary totaled $660,750. In 2000, the transfers were $89,000.

In March 2001, state officials ordered a ban on new admissions at the infirmary, citing problems at the infirmary, as well as with the infirmary's administration and the county commission.

At that time, Commissioner Bob Adams, whose mother lives at the infirmary, said it was time for a change.

"We had the worst audit we've ever had," Adams said. "And it's time to either bring it up to standards or close it."

The commissioners hired K.J. Langlais to begin work as the infirmary's temporary administrator and correct deficiencies. About six weeks later, the state lifted its ban on new admissions.

In July, commissioners agreed to seek a group to operate and manage the county infirmary. In October, commissioners voted to negotiate a lease with Citadel Holdings, Overland Park, for operation of the infirmary and possible construction of a new building.

Phillips also owns Rainmakers, a business that manages four other nursing centers in Kansas and Missouri.

On Monday, a new administrator, Mike Warren, Wichita, will take over. Phillips said Warren has worked in nursing home administration for 10 years.

As Phillips took the commissioners through the building, he pointed out improvements that need to be made.

In the cafeteria where most of the residents were sitting in their wheelchairs that had been pushed up to tables, Phillips said it's important that the home purchase chairs for the residents to sit on at mealtime.

"It's a dignity issue," he said. "They need to be moved out of wheelchairs and onto chairs if at all possible."

Valences need to be installed above the vertical window blinds in patient rooms, Phillips said. The rooms need new bedspreads. And, metal industrial-type tables that serve as bedside tables need to be repainted, he said.

The home's janitorial staff has recently concentrated on cleaning and touching up paint in the infirmary's south wing, which has for two years been vacant.

"We've been at this for three weeks and I think it's markedly different over here already," Phillips said.

Stephen Rich, director of nursing, said there currently are 33 residents. With some of the rooms being changed from semi-private to private, the building could house 51 residents, Rich said.

Phillips said the center has applied for Medicare certification for four rehab suites, rooms that will give area residents a place to stay between hospital and home, where they can receive therapy.

Phillips said his long-term goal for the facility, depending on the outcome of a market study, is to raze the existing structure and to build a center with 80 to 100 beds that could include both skilled nursing and assisted living.

While it's important to watch costs, Phillips said he doesn't plan to cut patient services. Rather, his emphasis will be on adding revenue.

"By doing the private rooms and making the facility more presentable to families, we're hoping that people would choose to come to the facility," he said.

And, will it be profitable?

"I think it can do well," Phillips said. "I think it can stand on its own feet."

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