The Piatt County board’s nursing home committee reviewed a spending plan for Services for Seniors at its meeting July 3, but first must find personnel for that department.

That after the recent resignation of Jordan Barker, who had been the only case worker on staff since two others left late last year.

We do have a candidate we like,” Nursing Home Director Scott Porter told the committee, saying that negotiations were underway to get the main case worker position filled.

Services for Seniors is part of the nursing home, but is mostly funded by a grant from the East Central Illinois Area Agency on Aging. The third year of a three-year authorization began on July 1.

Porter said the grant calls for one full-time and one part-time case worker, so both will need to be filled to fulfill ECIAAA requirements. At one time the office had three employees, including Barker, until director Cara Marcum and case worker Chris Sanantonio left its employ around December of 2018. Porter would not disclose whether their departure was voluntary or not, but Sanantonio said she resigned in order to concentrate on her non-profit efforts that include A Small Hand: Piatt County Infant Needs and Diaper Pantry.

An estimated $50,437 in grant dollars will fund most of the $63,858 Services for Seniors budget, but Porter said the nursing home coffers will need to fund about $6,000 to $8,000 in fiscal year 2019-20.

That’s what the program’s always run at, and it’s kind of hard to get around that because there is an hourly requirement when you accept the grant,” said Porter. “The assistant is needed to meet those grant requirements.”

A portion of the revenue shortfall comes from a change made in how the nursing home processes Medicaid applications. It previously paid Services for Seniors, but now handles that process in house.

Potentially down the road, would there be grant possibilities to offset that?” asked committee member Dale Lattz on the Services for Seniors’ currently unbalanced budget.

The major thing that can offset it would be local donations. However, those have been few and far between, and generally those go for programs above and beyond,” answered Porter.

He did say, however, that hopes are that other revenue sources can be found to fill the gap next year.

Finding qualified people to help other county residents with their Medicare, supplemental insurance paperwork and other needs is not an easy one, he added.

There are certain skill sets required that you don’t find everywhere,” said Porter of some of the main services provided by Services for Seniors.

Re-authorization of the grant will be in 2020-21, so the nursing home would need to apply next May for that competitive round of grants from the ECIAAA.

Most of the Services for Seniors budget – $47,460 of it – will go to salaries. Other line items include rent, travel, training, equipment, and communications.

Snow removal options

Noting the nursing home spent about $20,000 for snow removal last winter, Porter said they are investigating the purchase of a truck to accomplish the task in-house.

County Board Chairman Ray Spencer warned that “the sheriff went down that road, and had issues with it,” mostly in repairs to the vehicle used to push snow.

Porter said one advantage to having a truck at the nursing home is that its maintenance staff could also use it for other purposes. He said no decision has been made, and that research continues.

The nursing home is also looking into an upgrade to its current payroll program, one that would provide more human resources help.

The system we have (LTC) works for payroll, but doesn’t give us a true human resources platform,” said HR Director Jacqui Bush.

Any switch would not take place until January. Porter was not sure of the cost, but thought it be close to the Point Click Care update, which cost the nursing home about $14,000.