County Home up to the challenge of ’21

County Home up to the challenge of ’21

Image Credit: Dave Mast

As January gets set to usher in a new year, the former one can often bring unseen challenges and tasks that must be dealt with. How an individual or group reacts to those challenges goes a long way in determining their success.

In 2021 the Holmes County Home faced plenty of challenges, as did most organizations, and according to Deb Miller, executive director of the HCH, the year proved to be one of growth and stability.

She said first and foremost, her staff was a picture of dedication, noting that while they continue to seek employees to staff the facility fully, the staff members who are there have done an exceptional job at doing their own jobs and pitching in when needed in other areas around the home and the residents.

“I have a lot of wonderful, amazing employees, and I’d like to reward them and recognize them for doing everything we have asked of them to keep our residents healthy, happy and safe,” Miller said. “They have gone above and beyond and really done so in a very professional way. They are incredible people who believe in the mission.”

Being down in staff did help the home keep salary costs lower than normal, but Miller said that is one area where they wouldn’t mind spending a little more.

She said with the home being careful in bringing in new residents, that number also is down, leading to lower revenue income. The County Home stopped all new admissions during the pandemic scare of 2020 and has been carefully allowing new residents in on a limited basis.

She said they are currently down around $30,000 for the year in room and board income, having 10 fewer residents than normal because of that effort to curb admissions.

“We have been very careful in bringing in new residents because of COVID-19,” Miller said. “I kept admissions down once the pandemic passed, but with the staffing issue, I wasn’t comfortable in bringing a lot of new residents in. That obviously keeps our income down, but we need to continue to make the safety of our residents and staff a top priority.”

As for COVID cases, Miller said they have no current cases in the residents. The Holmes County Health Department has been providing COVID booster shots, which has allowed visitors to come in and visit residents. Miller said a huge percentage of residents have received their vaccines, and that has allowed the home to allow residents to leave for trips and visits with their families, something they couldn’t do last year.

She said they will begin doing admissions again at the beginning of the new year. It currently costs residents $1,590 monthly for a shared room, and she said they expect to make a 3% increase, which would bring that cost to residents to $1,637 in 2022.

They also offer respite and day-care services, with respite costing $67 per day, which is well below similar programs, and that number may rise to around $80 in 2022 at some point. The day-care cost is going to go to $3 per hour, and Miller said they keep those costs low for a reason.

“We do it as a service to our community more than anything,” she said. “We are generously supported through the levy, and we want to keep our costs low to thank them for their support.”

She expects a slow increase in resident admissions, and she hopes they can find personnel to fill out the staff.

The County Home does currently have a waiting list for residents and does offer plans for families who may not be able to afford the full costs of staying.

“Overall, considering all of the craziness we have dealt with, our year has gone really well,” Miller said. “We’ve been able to keep our expenses around the same as we were. Thankfully, our supplies have been down about $30,000 this year.”

She said the home was able to purchase a good amount of supplies and equipment at a good cost from Colonial Hills, a private nursing home facility in Loudonville that closed its doors this past year.

She said they acquired nursing supplies, PPE supplies and more, which helped them keep supply costs down.

One bright spot was the annual fall auction, which she said brought in a nice amount of funds despite being down in attendance. It came on the heels of canceling 2020’s auction.

“We had fewer people there, but they showed great generosity and weren’t afraid to spend, and we are fortunate for that type of support,” Miller said.

“We commend you on the steps you have taken to ensure that everyone is as safe as possible throughout this whole thing,” commissioner Rob Ault said to Miller.

“You are doing an outstanding job there, and we appreciate everything you do for the residents and our community,” commissioner Ray Eyler said to Miller.