The second town hall meeting about the upcoming May 6 $13.8 million bond election for a new nursing home filled the basement board room of Hemphill County Hospital. About 35 people, nursing home employees, hospital employees, HCH board members, and members of the community-at-large viewed a PowerPoint presentation of the plans for the facility planned for construction adjacent to the Mesa View Assisted Living Center.
HCH Administrator Christy Francis, CNO Debra Sappenfield, and Edward Abraham Nursing Home Interim Administrator Terrell Thomas answered questions about the drawings. The concept is a homelike atmosphere of a neighborhood. The 36 201-square-foot resident rooms are grouped in shorter hallways in more of a square. The memory-care unit has 12 rooms arranged in the same pattern.
Thomas and Francis talked about the problems EANH has had with placing residents in the current building where the bathrooms are shared. Both emphasized that potential residents have decided not to come to EANH and others have left because of the situation. “Those are things that will be fixed with the new building,” said Francis. Each room has a private 65-square-foot bathroom with a shower.
Another problem that will be solved, Thomas explained, is that the current building does not have enough electrical outlets for modern, tech-savvy residents—especially the younger ones—who arrive with cell phones, CPAP machines, laptops and other electronic devices. Another culture change, he said, is the world of virtual reality utilized in modern nursing home facilities.
Some of the discussion centered on the structural issues of the current building. The foundation is unstable, resulting in cracks that have to be monitored on a weekly basis. Walkers have to be adjusted to the uneven floor level in some cases.
Since taking over the operation of the nursing home, the district has had to provide funding for repairs in order to pass state inspections. And, even with the problems, the census at the Home is 41, increasing twofold from that of last year’s of 21, pointing to the satisfaction with the level of care residents are receiving.
Thomas spoke about his experience with nursing homes and the fact that there is little profit involved in their operation, “only a two-percent profit margin … unless you want to buy 69 more,” he said, referring to companies with nursing home chains. He noted EANH needs to make expenses, but the Home serves a special purpose. “A recent resident we got had nobody to take care of her … that’s why we’re here.” He said he has often heard people complain that they don’t want to go to a nursing home because “people go there to die.” “I’m looking at people who go there to live,” said Thomas.
Francis reiterated that she felt very proud when she realizes that residents see EANH as their home, “when we become their family when they didn’t have a place.” She also wanted to emphasize that the nursing home is a “huge feeder for this district,” not only through the payroll at the home and the residents’ payments. The residents represented 30 admissions out of 170 last year, Francis said, which equates to $300,000 to $500,000 in revenue, just for impatient services and potentially millions of dollars for all services. “I just wanted to show you the impact it would have if we didn’t have a nursing home in Canadian.”
Half the session was devoted to testimonials of residents who have benefitted from that care, as well as testimonials provided by the care givers themselves. RN Michelle Adcock spoke for residents Caroline and Ronnie Tucker, explaining that Caroline had been in several facilities in Amarillo and had been asked to leave. Caroline didn’t even remember moving to Canadian because she was in an almost catatonic state. “We worked with her and got her off the medications,” said Adcock. Caroline walks now. Ronnie was driving from Amarillo to see her and when it became too hard on him and his health declined, he entered the Home. As a result, he has gained weight and they are both “doing well.” In fact, Caroline will be able to attend her grandson’s graduation in May, something she didn’t imagine would ever happen.
Another resident who has benefitted is a bariatric patient from Borger who could not take care of herself at home and had to leave the hospital. A search began for a facility that would take her case. When she arrived at EANH, she could not speak. The district purchased special equipment to assist in her care. The woman has lost about 70 pounds, is now ambulatory, and participates in exercise programs. She also will be able to attend her son’s graduation in May.
A member of the Abraham family, Kay Brown, said the original building has served its purpose and the plan for a new one “looks good to me.” The Edward Abraham Memorial Home, constructed in the 1960s, was the dream of her uncle Edward Abraham, who personally cared for the elderly in the community and wanted a place for people who had nowhere else to go. “I really think Uncle Eddie would be overjoyed to move on,” she added.
Other topics covered were room rates for private pay versus Medicaid residents, the particulars of the bond issue interest rates, the Home volunteers, and staffing for the memory care unit.
A third town hall meeting is scheduled for Monday, April 24, at 5:30 pm at the Fort Elliott School Auditorium.