• Ascutney hospital closes nursing facility after 40 years
     | March 29,2013

    WINDSOR — A Windsor nursing facility is closing after 40 years of serving the region.

    Mount Ascutney Hospital announced Wednesday it will close its skilled nursing facility Sept. 1. The facility, which opened in 1972, accommodates up to 25 patients and provides both short- and long-term care for patients recovering from acute illnesses, accidents, strokes, fractures, surgeries and other related ailments.

    According to CEO Kevin Donovan, federal legislators are implementing sequestration cuts that will go into effect April 1 and the Green Mountain Care Board — the board that oversees the Green Mountain Care Health Insurance Plan — set a 3 percent revenue cap for hospitals providing patient services.

    Donovan said Mount Ascutney Hospital is expecting a 2 percent decrease, or approximately $500,000, in Medicare payments and the laws set by the Green Mountain Care Board prevents the hospital from making up the Medicare cuts.

    The closure will affect 35 employees — a mix of per diem, part-time and full-time workers.

    “We gave our employees five months notice that this is happening. We expect half of them will end up in vacant positions by the five month process but we’re going to try to fit people into other roles here as best as we can here at the hospital,” Donovan said.

    When asked if board members considered other alternatives to saving money, Donovan said they examined all hospital programs and determined its strengths were in primary care services such as ambulatory surgery and acute rehabilitation services. The hospital sought to serve as many people as possible and the skilled nursing facility only served up to 25 people at a time.

    Donovan said the skilled nursing facility closing will save the hospital $1.2 million.

    “We wish we could provide services to everyone. But when it comes down to what is sustainable in the long term, the nursing home stood out as unsustainable due to the finances related to the hospital,” Donovan said.

    Mount Ascutney Hospital will work with their current patients and match them with other facilities offering long-term care. The patients will still receive geriatric physician and provider services once they are relocated, Donovan said.

    Mount Ascutney Hospital’s inpatient rehabilitation program will now occupy the skilled nursing facility and they will use the $1.2 million in savings toward upgrading patient rooms and services.

    “Mount Ascutney Hospital is the regional resource for inpatient rehabilitation and some of our facilities are lagging. ... There is an opportunity to move (the inpatient rehabilitation program) in the same space and can get our unit up to appropriate standards,” Donovan said.

    “It goes back to our original point. We’re trying to think of the most cost effective and fiscally responsible way to offer the services we provide.”

    @Tagline:christian.avard @rutlandherald.com

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