WALLINGFORD — Citing operating losses, Masonicare Health Center is outsourcing several departments, and staff who turn down employment with the new providers will be treated as having resigned, officials said.
Rehabilitation therapy services are slated to be outsourced to HealthPro Heritage effective May 31. Rehab staff are to be employed by HealthPro, according to an internal letter dated May 7 obtained by the Record-Journal.
Employees had the option to interview with HealthPro, however “if they chose not to do so, that would be considered a resignation as we (are) no longer directly employing those roles,” Ann Collette, vice president of strategy, said via email.
Employee health insurance through Masonicare would end for the rehab staff at the end of the month.
Collette said that COBRA insurance coverage is available, and that employees are encouraged to discuss their benefit options and coverage periods with their new employer.
COBRA is a federal program that allows workers who lose their health benefits due to job loss to continue group health benefits provided by their group health plan for limited periods of time, however it’s often more expensive than marketplace insurance.
Pharmacy services are slated to be outsourced to Woodmark Pharmacy effective June 1, with the transition occurring this week and next week. Clinical staff are to receive an in-service training on the new medication ordering and dispensing process, the letter stated.
Radiology services are slated to be outsourced to NOA Diagnostics also effective June 1. Imaging would be ordered by Masonicare clinicians via PointClickCare and provided at the Health Center by NOA technologists using portable equipment.
Employment in the pharmacy and radiology departments is slated to be outsourced to the new providers as well.
It’s unclear how many employees are affected by the outsourcing. The Health Center, a 357-bed facility with an average daily occupancy of 92 percent, lost $6.5 million in fiscal year 2019, Collette said.
The new providers are still interviewing employees for positions, Collette said. Some staff members have declined employment offers.
Some employees are being reassigned to a partnering hospital.
Masonicare also has encouraged eligible employees to apply for open positions within the company.‘No longer viable’
Masonicare implemented a strategic reorganization plan in March.
“The skilled nursing industry has been under substantial stress for years as a result of rising health care costs, less than adequate reimbursement rates, pressured labor markets, payment reform and shifts toward the utilization of home health care as an alternative to skilled nursing care,” Collette said.
“Operators across the state have been challenged with finding new and improved ways of doing business. For Masonicare, this challenge is no different,” she continued. “We had to take a good look at what we were doing and how we were doing it. It was a matter of survival.”
Administrators considered each component of the business and how it operated, comparing it to operators locally and regionally and identifying areas of inefficiency.
“Masonicare has been in the business of caring for 125 years,” Collette said. “Organizational structures that once served us are no longer viable options.”
She cited the high costs of running an in-house pharmacy and radiology department.
“You just don’t see those services operating this way in a skilled nursing center anywhere,” Collette said.
Medicare’s payment model change to the Patient Driven Payment Model influenced Masonicare to move rehab services to a company with expertise in this area.
“It’s never an easy decision as it impacts people’s lives,” Collette said, “but we cannot continue to operate with such significant operating losses. Additionally, it is imperative that we bring contemporary business models to our organization so that we can continue to offer the best senior care services available.”
All Masonicare employees have the potential to care for COVID-19-positive residents.
Masonicare admitted its first COVID-19-positive resident May 1 to an isolation unit opened to minimize exposure to other residents.
As of early last week, 11 individuals were receiving care in the isolation unit, including seven from long-term care and four from Ashlar Village and Pond Ridge Assisted Living.
“While the COVID-19 pandemic has created significant revenue challenges, the strategic restructuring is part of our long term strategy and not directly tied to COVID-19,” Collette said.
Blanket testing of residents is slated to occur Tuesday as part of a state initiative to test all nursing home residents. Masonicare is contracting with an outside company to assist its staff, according to a statement.