Scheurer Health Closing Long Term Care Unit
After many years of discussion, analysis and consultation, our Board of Trustees have made the extremely tough decision to close our Long Term Care unit at Scheurer Health.
As you can imagine, this was not an easy decision; nor was it the solution that in a perfect world, we would ever come to. But as we are reminded every day, the world is far from perfect and closing our Long Term Care unit is one that ensures that our residents can receive the quality of care that they are used to and we as an organization can continue to provide the top-rate quality of care that Scheurer Health has come to be known for, for years into the future.
Our goal is to answer and explain any of the questions that you may have as it relates to the ‘why, when, and how’ this decision was made.
Long Term Care has been part of our DNA ever since we opened our doors to the ‘new’ Scheurer Hospital in 1972. In 2004, we put on an addition at the north end of our campus that over doubled its size while keeping the number of Long Term Care residents the same – at just 19 in total. Our Long Term Care unit is considered to be a “basic” unit, unlike the “skilled” centers like that of the Huron and Tuscola County Medical Care Facilities, Courtney Manor, Lakeview Extended Care and beyond. In fact, our Long Term Care is the only basic unit in the entire county. For the last 51 years, we have bridged that gap by going above and beyond with the quality of care that our residents receive on a daily basis.
The short answer as to why we have come to the decision to close our Long Term Care is finances and the constant increase in federal and state regulations that are applied to our small unit of 19 residents.
Over the years, the amount of regulation and paperwork that is required to maintain a nursing home the size of ours is quite ridiculous and has been increasing at an alarming rate, especially since the pandemic. Most, if not all of these changes are aimed at large metropolitan facilities that have hundreds of residents, and we completely understand the need for these regulations. However, it makes for a very difficult environment to operate in for a small ‘basic’ unit like ours at Scheurer.
In addition, funding and reimbursement from programs like Medicaid continue to decrease making our Long Term Care of just 19 residents unsustainable.
It is our goal to be as transparent with you as possible when it comes to this decision. That’s why we are willing to share with you that over the last ten years, we have lost an average of over a half million dollars every year -- $580,907 to be specific. Up to this point, we have been able and willing to subsidize the losses in Long Term Care with the success that we have had at Scheurer. However, in today’s economy where everything is costing more and expenses continue to rise, we are at a fork in the road and we refuse to lower our standards and quality of care that our residents receive.
Like I said earlier, this decision was not made easily and certainly not overnight. Since 2018, we have had financial auditors and consultants from WIPFLI, who specialize in healthcare finance, reviewing our business operations as a whole. Every year, for the last five years, they have recommended drastic changes to our Long Term Care that would change its identity with a number of cuts and reductions. All of this would have a negative impact on quality – which we refuse to do.
These findings and scenarios have been discussed at length for half of a decade with our Board of Trustees. Our Board is comprised of pillars of our local communities since Scheurer’s establishment 78 years ago. Their purpose is to look out for the communities that we serve and to drive our standards forward. So, as you can imagine, this was not an easy decision to make. In every single one of our discussions about Long Term Care, our residents, families and Scheurer team have been at the top of our minds and will continue to be, as we move forward.
Much like the rest of us, our board did not want to have to come to this unanimous decision, but it’s one that is along the same lines as when we stopped delivering babies at Scheurer Hospital, some 25 years ago.
Now, we realize a decision of this magnitude will spark conversations and rumors about Scheurer’s overall future. That’s why I am here to tell you that we have made this decision to ensure a bright future at Scheurer. We are absolutely determined to remain an independent healthcare organization and sometimes tough decisions are required to do so. We still have the same commitment to Senior Living as ever and Country Bay Village and Country Gardens remain as great resources for our community.
Our decision to close Long Term Care was extensive and thorough, and so is our closure timeline.
The State of Michigan and federal government requires a very detailed closure plan with a wide variety of required milestones to ensure that our residents are taken care of. As you can imagine, we are taking these baseline requirements and upping them to meet our Scheurer standards for the benefit of our residents and their families.
The State requires just 30 days' notice from the time it is announced to when the unit can close, while the federal government requires 60 days. To make sure that every one of our residents’ needs are met, our timeline is around 100 days. During this time, our staff will be working with each family individually so that a new community can be found that best suits their needs, level of care and lifestyle. When it comes time for that resident to move to their new home, our staff will travel with them to maximize their comfort and familiarity of the new location. Our social work team, along with our MDS Nurse Coordinator and Director of Nursing will all be involved so that there is as smooth of a transition as possible. We have great relationships with the other eight nursing homes across the Thumb area and we will utilize every one of them for the benefit of our residents.
As of today, we have 16 Long Term Care residents, all of whom our team considers to be part of their family. We will without a doubt miss their warm smiles, stories and presence on our campus. Saying goodbye will be tough and many tears will be shed. Knowing that they are going to be taken care of at one of our other great local nursing communities will make it a little easier, but certainly still bittersweet.
One of the many topics of discussion in addition to just our residents is also our staff. We are so grateful for every single person who works in our Long Term Care unit and they’re the reason it has such an outstanding reputation in our community. One of the great benefits and strengths that we have as an organization is that our scope of service spans in many directions. As is the case with nearly every business in the world right now, we have a number of open positions and our Long Term Care team has the opportunity to apply for and fill those slots.
No plans have been made for the space that Long Term Care currently occupies. Our focus has been on our residents, families and staff that are affected by this decision. Eventually, the area will be repurposed in a way to best serve the community, much like we have with Long Term Care for the last 51 years.
So, as we work through this tough decision and everything that is associated with it – including our emotions – I want to thank you for your support of Scheurer Health. It is because of you that we are able to provide so many essential services to our local community and as a result, you have made us your first choice for healthcare.
Tough decisions are just that – tough.
But sometimes they’re required to ensure an even brighter future. One that we will certainly have together at Scheurer Health.
Ross M. Ramsey, MD
President & CEO
To view video, click here.
To view Long Term Care Closure Timeline and FAQs, click here.