- Associated Press - Wednesday, December 14, 2016

WATERLOO, Iowa (AP) - Officials in Black Hawk County are considering what to do with a county-owned nursing and mental health care center that’s losing $68,000 a month.

County finance director Susan Deaton said Country View is on pace to exhaust most of its cash reserves this summer, The Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier (https://bit.ly/2hws0K2 ) reported.

Country View is one of two county-run care centers in Iowa. Local officials said the center has been struggling with losses for several years, noting that it relies almost exclusively on Medicaid-funded clients. The center also has above-average personnel costs and hard-to-place clients who were previously turned away from private centers.

“We get referrals from all four corners of the state,” Country View Administrator Dennis Coleman said. “We’re thought of as a mental health facility, which we are not, but we will take people that other nursing facilities will not.”

Efforts to stem financial losses in 2016 by boosting the number of residents and cutting the use of outside staffing agencies haven’t worked. The care center’s officials are working with a consulting group to give the facility financial advice. Officials are scheduled to meet with Iowa’s other care center to share ideas.

County officials considered selling, privatizing or closing Country View, but they have chosen to keep it open to avoid uprooting the center’s residents.

“You have a special population out there that we’re serving,” county Board of Supervisors chair Linda Laylin said.

Board member Craig White said the funding cuts have already cut into residents’ quality of life.

“It’s just sad,” White said. “These people are already under a lot of restrictions. You used to see them out at ball games and such, but now you hardly see them out during the summer.”

Coleman said the care center could possibly receive up to $1.3 million in federal intergovernmental transfers starting in 2017, but rules for that money are still pending.

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Information from: Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier, https://www.wcfcourier.com


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