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City will back new nursing home if state approves it

Weatherford Democrat - 7/12/2018

July 11--Weatherford City Council Tuesday night voted to support the construction of a new nursing home with Medicaid beds if the state determines it is needed.

The council voted 4-1, with council member Heidi Wilder voting against, to provide a letter and resolution declaring that, with the state's approval, the city welcomes construction of a nursing facility.

"The city is not authorizing this facility or any facility," City Manager Sharon Hayes said. "This is just a next step. Once the application is received by the state, it is my understanding that they will then notify the other operators in this area and then they would have an opportunity to comment."

Jeff Rhodes of the Rhoman Group, a consulting agency representing developer Lloyd Douglas of Aledo, who is seeking to build a nursing facility in Weatherford, spoke on behalf of Douglas.

As part of the process to get a waiver to obtain Medicaid certified beds, they must submit an application, get a state-approved third party to provide a demographic and healthcare needs assessment, and show evidence of substantial community support, Rhodes said.

"If there weren't a need, I promise you we wouldn't be here doing this," Rhodes said.

Rhodes said they are investing $9 million to construct the facility and will bring 80 to 120 jobs to the community and $2.8 million a year in payroll.

"It's up to the providers to be competitive in their pay scales and to recruit workers and to go into the colleges and recruit those," Rhodes said, adding that solutions are being created all over the country, which has an overall shortage of workers.

A group of Parker County nursing homes is opposing the plans for a new facility.

"There is not enough nurses and nursing staff in Weatherford right now to staff the current eight buildings we have now," Keith Fuchs, an administrator at College Park Rehab and Care Center, told the city council.

No existing nursing homes in Parker County currently meet minimum standards for staffing levels as people who visit Medicare.gov's compare website can find, Fuchs said.

A new nursing home will exacerbate an existing nursing staff shortage and impact patient care, potentially endangering residents, he said.

Fuchs said his nursing home pays better than his competitors and matches and exceeds pay rates in Fort Worth but they still have a shortage.

Fuchs said that support from the city will give the project a green light from the state, something Rhodes disputed.

The existing nursing homes argued that the data provided to Weatherford and the state is not accurate and there is not a need right now for more Medicaid-certified beds.

They work with Weatherford College but graduates want to go to the hospital and deliver babies or go out of the county, Fuchs said.

Andrew Bruenderman, administrator of Weatherford Healthcare, also said his facility and others have beds available.

Bringing in staffing agency workers opens up opportunity for medication errors and other patient care risks, Bruenderman said.

"It's not about a money thing," he said. "It's about the patient care. I worry about the safety of the residents of Parker County."

Council member Curtis Tucker said his family had difficultly finding a bed for his father-in-law earlier this year.

"This county needs a nursing home," Douglas said, adding that he believes added competition could help solve the problems the existing nursing homes are facing.

"To me this is saying, 'You know what, state, I'm not telling you we're excited, we're ready to have this,'" council member Kevin Cleveland said. "'I'm not telling you we've made a determination in any form or fashion about it.' I'm saying, 'You know what, let the competitors compete. We acknowledge it's coming. We're not going to fight it being here.'"


(c)2018 Weatherford Democrat (Weatherford, Texas)

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