Nursing Homes Need State Funding

By: Max Seigle
By: Max Seigle

For 24 years, Rennet Mummert has worked at the Stephenson County Nursing Center in Freeport. But only now is she facing her toughest times. "Our level of care has really increased. The people are coming in a lot sicker and they have a lot more needs that need to be met," Mummert said. Covering those needs these days is getting harder and harder for agencies like the Stephenson County Nursing Center. They're getting by with patient care....but dwindling revenue has led to 15 layoffs this year to non-nursing staff and one less shift for nurses. "The main problem is we need more reimbursements from Medicaid so we can continue to give the highest quality of care," Mummert said. Nurses, like Mummert, are praying for legislators to pass the state budget because it includes an increase to those reiumbursements, currently funded at 1999 levels. There is also a separate residential care funding in the budget that's part of a five-year 150-million dollar assistance plan. That money is equally important. "If it doens't go through, it will affect the quality of care and the service to the elderly," said Sherry Gravenstein, Director of the Stephenson County Nursing Home. If that happens, Gravenstein says the center will look at options other than layoffs to save money. Those options will be explored by a recently-hired consultant. But nurses say they're holding out hope that lawmakers will do their part soon. "We have a little support group among the nurses and trying to be as positive as we can," Mummert said. Optimism for these patients who nurses say deserve this state funding for their contributions to this world. State Senator Dave Syverson says there's still no word yet on when the budget will get approved. As far as the nursing home funding, he says there's no guarantee right now because of the debate over new state programs in the budget.

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