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News Feature

Deer Isle
Originally published in Island Ad-Vantages, November 17, 2022 and The Weekly Packet, November 17, 2022
INH board seeks public input on reopening plan
Must raise $3 million to reopen

by Leslie Landrigan

The Island Nursing Home board of directors wants feedback from the public on its draft plan to reopen the facility with 32 residential-care beds by July 1, 2023. The board has scheduled a public meeting to discuss the proposal on Wednesday, November 30, at 6 p.m. in the high school gym.

Reopening depends on the board’s ability to raise $3 million to make up for the $500,000 it expects to lose every year, INH Treasurer Skip Greenlaw said in an interview.

“Raising a substantial amount of money is essential to our ability to get a conditional license from the state,” Greenlaw said.

Greenlaw said he’s confident that the INH board can raise the money.

The plan, summarized in a column on page 5, describes how the board hopes to raise $3 million from private donations, business contributions and revenue from the seven island and peninsula towns: Deer Isle, Stonington, Isle au Haut, Brooksville, Brooklin, Blue Hill and Sedgwick.

Greenlaw said he’s asked more than a dozen people for donations and received a positive response. INH Board President Leon Weed said he, too, found people willing to donate, but in small amounts.

“There’s light at the end of the tunnel,” Weed said.

The INH board plans to release financial information soon, Greenlaw said.

Residential versus skilled care

The INH board in September announced that it had agreed to sell two-thirds of its bed licenses for $700,000, leaving licenses for approximately 18 skilled-nursing beds or 36 residential-care beds, or a smaller combination of each.

Local people who wanted INH to continue offering skilled-nursing care had circulated a petition opposing the sale of the licenses. More than 1,500 people signed the petition.

Greenlaw said the INH board had no choice because of the shortage of nurses, which caused the nursing home to shut down in the first place.

“It’s a hard thing to say there’s going to be no nursing care beds,” Greenlaw said.

The hope is to eventually change the configuration of beds to include skilled-nursing beds as well, he said.

Skilled-nursing care is more lucrative than residential care because it gets higher reimbursement rates from the government.

The state, through MaineCare, reimburses nursing homes some—but not enough—money for patients who can’t afford to pay for their own residential care. Greenlaw said state regulators told him INH will have to make up the shortfall itself.

“They are requiring substantial documentation of financial assistance that we can go forward for a significant time with substantial deficits,” Greenlaw said.

As a result, the board is hoping to raise money from the seven towns. Board members have said that they might ask for $100,000 from each town, but Weed said that wasn’t etched in stone.

“We may ask for $20,000 instead of $100,000,” Weed said.

Greenlaw also plans to work some political levers—such as his friendship with Senate President Troy Jackson and with legislators and regulators—to raise the reimbursement rate for residential nursing care.

What it might look like

A reopened residential care facility would have only one resident in each room. Before the nursing home closed, there were two to a room.

For a 32-bed facility, INH would have to fill 22 staff positions, including a licensed residential care administrator, a medical director, a RN nurse manager and 13 CRMAs, or certified residential medication aides. (See sidebar for more detail.)

Before the state grants a conditional license, INH will have to have hired a licensed residential care director. Greenlaw said the board is in discussion with someone who may be willing to take the job.