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Weatherwood now right with the state

Published October 05. 2009 02:55PM

The Carbon County Nursing and Rehabilitation Center at Weatherwood has now resolved all deficiencies cited by state inspectors.

That means the nursing and rehabilitation center in Weatherly can once again admit patients, and lifts one worry from county officials' shoulders as they take steps to nurse the facility back to fiscal health.

"The Department of Health conducted an exit conference with our people at Weatherwood yesterday afternoon and confirmed what we believed would be good news all along, that is that we would be off our deficient status and in compliance with health care regulations," said county commissioners' Chairman William O'Gurek. "The commissioners are obviously pleased that we are over this hurdle and want to thank the administration and employees of the nursing home for their efforts during this most difficult time."

Janet Gerber, president of Gerber Consulting Service, Indiana County, the firm hired by commissioners in September to bring Weatherwood into compliance with government regulations, said the final three deficiencies were urinary incontinence, accidents and supervision and quality assurance.

"All of those were addressed quite well. There were really no findings and they were decreed, as far as the Department of Health is concerned, as cleared and in compliance," she said.

The next step, Gerber said, "is to maintain the momentum that they had picked up and continue to provide quality care."

Efforts to reach the state Department of Health this week were unsuccessful.

The deficiencies were among those first noted in an April inspection of the facility.

The resolution is good news as county commissioners explore ways to staunch the flow of red ink. Weatherwood was self-supporting until last year, when a confluence of events led to a budgetary shortfall the nursing home's first since it was built in 1972.

The events include rising costs coupled with falling admissions and the spending down of a pool of reserve money.

Last year for the first time, the county contributed $350,000 to help the home make ends meet. If nothing is done, commissioners have said, the amount may rise to $2.5 million next year.

In September, commissioners hired Susquehanna Group Advisors, Inc., Harrisburg, for $17,750 to provide an operational assessment of the facility. The firm will assess the home's strengths and weaknesses, and provide a report detailing its operations and what the county's options are.

Susquehanna will look at a number of facets, including Weatherwood's business model, finances, collective bargaining contracts, compensation and housekeeping.

O'Gurek has said the report would be ready about a month after Susquehanna finishes its assessment. Commissioners have said there are no plans to close the home.

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