A recent Illinois Department of Public Health annual survey brought to light some long standing issues with the kitchen ventilation system in the Piatt County Nursing Home, leading to unique effects and a nearly $20,000 fix.

There was a 50 lb. block of ice on the (air conditioning) coils when they (contractors) went up there to assess it,” Nursing Home Director Scott Porter told the nursing home committee on May 23.

The intake had been modified for some reason, blocked off in some areas and diverted. The reasons for that are unknown. The result was the air flow was poor, circulation was poor and was causing condensation,” he added, noting it likely took life off of the facility’s air handlers as well.

The fix, which contractors finished recently, will add a kitchen vent hood and properly route the air handling system. It will cost $19,806, higher than normal due to the fact crews needed to work nights around the cafeteria schedule.

It’s a problem that has existed for a long time. I’m finding out about it now, so we might has well correct it now,” added Porter

I agree that it would have been nice if surveys from previous years would have found that problem, but it’s good it’s found and should make things a lot better,” commented nursing home committee member Shannon Carroll.

Porter felt it was likely ignored because it is “periodic, the dripping doesn’t happen all the time.”

The nursing home director also notified the board that Medicare reimbursement will go the managed care route on July 1. That means that, instead of billing the state for reimbursement, facilities will contract directly with four managed care companies, “as though it is private insurance.”

Porter said reimbursement rates will not change, but that there are mixed emotions from nursing homes around the state, especially from directors who lived through a short-lived change to managed care for Medicaid several years ago.

Some said it was, you literally bill them and there is no problem, because they are just brokering the money,” said Porter. “Others say it is difficult to get them to pay, or they’ll come back – even a year later – and say they audited this case and you owe us.

So that’s kind of the worry for us, is we’re not going to have an advocacy we have with these companies that we have with the state,” he added.