Loss of Federal Dollars Puts Massive Strain on Basin Nursing Homes

By Jen Kastner
NewsWest 9

MIDLAND- In a perfect world, every senior would have kids or grandkids to fall back on, but that's not realistic. However, the Village at Manor Park Retirement Community in Midland tries to be a second best.

Certified Nursing Assistant, Andrea Cruz, says, "We're like a big family. Many patients don't have any children at all. We're their family."

Their not-for-profit nursing home cares for dozens of aging citizens. Manor Park houses both private paying and Medicaid-assisted seniors. For the ones getting government help, the nursing home only gets about an 80% return from the state.

Executive Director Alan Hale says, "We're limping along from year to year hoping we don't have to discontinue Medicaid service altogether."

Most politicians agree there's limited funds to cover a growing need for care but there still seems to be no solution.

"For reasons that I don't understand, care for seniors that are dependent on others is so low on the priority list," Hale said.

The Texas Health Care Association just released a survey reporting top scenarios the state may face in 2012. They claim about 80% of nursing homes may have to freeze wages.

Many are already doing that in the Basin. Around 30% of nursing homes may have to lay off direct care staff and about 12% of these facilities may be forced to look at closing their doors.

The Basin can't afford to cut nursing employees and forfeit quality of care. Yet, they also can't cut or freeze wages. That's not even an option in this booming economy where there's high paying competition with the oil industry.

Cruz says, "[Oil] takes a lot of employees away. They quit here and go work someplace else. It's a hard job. You've got to have a heart for it."

Hale says, "Retention of good nursing home employees is becoming more difficult because they have alternatives to make more money elsewhere."

Some not-for-profit nursing homes are having to reduce the number of beds they have or do away all together with medicaid residents.