Room rates increasing at medical center’s long term care

Residents of the long term care unit at Greene County Medical Center will see a 5 percent increase in their bills starting Aug. 1 following action taken by the medical center trustees at their regular meeting June 19.

The board had first been asked to consider a rate increase in May, but the trustees asked for more information before making a decision.

Chief financial officer Mark Vander Linden provided figures from a 2013 Genworth Cost of Care survey for the Ames/Des Moines region. That survey showed the room rates for long term care ranging from $163 to $182 for a semi-private room and from $180 to $197 for a private room. The rates at Greene County Medical Center are $161 semi-private, $179 private, and $244 for a suite. The medical center has 15 semi-private rooms (30 beds), 15 private rooms and five suites. There is currently a waiting list for beds for women.

The budget for the coming fiscal year projects expenses in long term care to increase 4.4 percent.

The increase approved last week changes room rates to $169 for a semi-private room, $188 for a private room, and $256 for a suite. The majority of residents at long term care – 67.8 percent – are self-pay with expenses not covered by insurance.

Discussion on the matter lasted for 20 minutes, with trustee David Hoyt questioning whether this is the time for a rate increase.  There was turmoil in staffing the long term care unit over the winter, creating a “PR nightmare” Hoyt reminded the board. Agency staffing was used in the interim. Chief nursing executive Katie Heldt reassured the board that new staff will be on board very soon.

There has also been public concern that long term care will ultimately be closed with the construction/renovation project. CEO Carl Behne said that’s not the plan. “Until we’re operating in the new building and people see it, those same people aren’t going to believe it. We’ll continue to share the message and remind people that that’s not what’s going to take place,” Behne said.

 

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