A resident of a nursing home waves to a trailer in Fairfield in March 2021. Iowa nursing home industry leaders said Friday that 11 nursing homes have closed in Iowa since December and that others faced financial and personnel problems. They called on state and federal governments to increase reimbursement rates so they can increase pay and benefits for nursing home workers. (Submitted)
These Iowa nursing homes have closed or are in the process of closing since late last year, according to the Iowa Health Care Association:
• Touchstone Healthcare Community, Sioux City
• Big Creek Nursing & Rehab, Polk City
• Morningside Care Center, Ida Grove
• Society of Good Samaritans – Newell, Newell
• Valley View Specialist Care, Eldora
• Nelson Manor, Newton
• Heritage Care Center, Iowa Falls
• Petersen Commons Assisted Living, Davenport
• Rock Ridge Assisted Living, Shellsburg
• QHC Humboldt South, Humboldt
• Manila Mansion, Manila
JOHNSTON — Nearly a dozen nursing homes in Iowa have closed since late last year, largely due to inflation-related financial strains, supply chain issues and labor shortages, the head of a statewide health care organization said Friday.
While many businesses and industries face these same pressures, Brent Willett, president and CEO of the Iowa Health Care Association, said nursing homes cannot respond to these pressures in the same way. than other companies.
Because of this lack of flexibility, many nursing homes, especially in rural areas, are at risk of closing, Willett said.
Willett made the comments Friday while taping this weekend’s episode of “Iowa Press” on Iowa PBS. He was joined in the program by Di Findley, executive director of Iowa CareGivers.
Willett called the inflationary pressures “extraordinary.”
“Medical supplies are up 30%, 35%, wage pressures are certainly significantly higher than that and across the spectrum,” Willett said. “And again, long-term care facilities just don’t have the option that the rest of the economy has, which limits the time – we can’t close – (and) we can’t not increase our prices because these prices are controlled by the federal and state governments.
“And so we are experiencing ongoing and devastating financial losses, which, unfortunately, have begun to cause retirement homes to close across the state of Iowa. We’ve seen (11) closures in the last seven months in Iowa, and we fear for more. »
Recent closings, according to the Iowa Health Care Association, span Iowa from Davenport to Sioux City, and have occurred in large cities and small towns like Shellsburg (population over 800).
Willett said rural nursing home closures can be especially stressful for residents of that community, as they must seek that care for themselves or family members elsewhere, often miles away.
Even where nursing homes remain afloat, many are being forced to reduce their services or available beds, Willett said. According to a recent survey of his group members, at least 45% of Iowa nursing homes are limiting or freezing admissions due to a lack of staff, he said.
Willett praised the Iowa state government for its investment in Medicaid and Medicare programs, which help support nursing home operations.
However, he and Findley both said more government investment is needed, particularly in increasing reimbursement rates so facilities are able to offer better salaries and benefits to staff.
“There are a lot of mouths to feed when it comes to the state budget, but we are facing a healthcare access crisis in Iowa that I fear will get worse if we are not able to reinvest in the system and continue the work and finish the work that the Iowa Legislature and Governor (Kim) Reynolds have stood for over the past few years,” Willett said.
Findley said she’s glad to see federal funding being used to help nursing home and home care workers, but she’s worried the aid will be a short-term one-off fix.
“We need long-term systemic change,” she said.
The Iowa Health Care Association represents retirement homes, assisted living centers and senior living facilities in Iowa. Iowa CareGivers represents direct care workers like certified health care aides and home care aides.
“Iowa Press” airs on Iowa PBS at 7:30 p.m. Friday and noon Sunday, and 8:30 a.m. Saturday on PBS World. It is also available online at iowapbs.org.
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