Life Care Centers seeks to replace Colonial Hills
By Robert Norris | (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Life Care Centers of America plans to build a new $21 million nursing home in Louisville to replace Colonial Hills Nursing Center that was closed Jan. 20 following termination of its Medicare and Medicaid provider agreement.
Beecher Hunter, president of Life Care, said on Monday that the company will apply this week to the Tennessee Health Services and Development Agency for a certificate of need to authorize the new facility. It would be located on a 10.67-acre site at 1965 Stewart Lane near the intersection of Pellissppi Parkway and Topside Road.
“It’s a great location for us and convenient for both Blount Memorial (Hospital) and also the Knoxville hospitals,” Hunter said.
The new nursing home would bring an estimated 175 new jobs to the area with an annual payroll of about $7.5 million.
Hunter said the annual economic impact would be $18.8 million when totaling payroll, taxes, and goods and services purchased in the community.
Pending approval of the certificate of need, construction on the new nursing center could possibly begin before the end of 2012, Hunter said. If the need certificate is OK’d by the state, the application for a $15 million renovation of Colonial Hills would be relinquished. Also, the new facility would have a new name.
License for 120 beds eyed
The new certificate of need will request a license for 120 beds. The proposed new building would include accommodations for short-term inpatients and long-term residents, including 80 private rooms and 20 semiprivate rooms. Private rooms would have their own showers, and oxygen and vacuum services would be available for all beds.
The rehabilitation offerings for both inpatients and outpatients in the new facility would include a 4,000-square-foot rehab gym, “state-of-the-art” equipment and modalities, a physical therapy courtyard and a putting green. The facility will have its own in-house team of physical, occupational and speech therapists.
The plans will include a library, a private dining room for family get-togethers, a beauty shop, four courtyards and an ice cream shop.
Colonial Hills closed
Life Care Centers, corporate owner of Colonial Hills Nursing Center, located at 2034 Cochran Road, was notified Dec. 22 that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services was terminating the Maryville facility’s provider agreement. The nursing home was ordered to move all Medicare/Medicaid residents from the facility by Feb. 6.
That meant about 100 of the about 164 residents at Colonial Hills had to be moved. The company decided to also move all private care residents and to close the nursing home.
Colonial Hills was closed on Jan. 20 after the last two residents were transferred to other locations.
Prior to the termination of Colonial Hills’ Medicaid/Medicare agreement, the Tennessee Department of Health penalized Colonial Hills twice last year for violations found after complaints were filed.
Hunter acknowledged that Colonial Hills had some problems.
“Did we make mistakes at Colonial Hills? Yes we did. But they did not that rise to the level of the punishment,” he said.
Hunter added that Life Care Centers submitted a plan to the state to rectify the problems but did not get the opportunity to follow through with the changes.
Doctor on board
A significant addition to the new facility would be a full-time, on-site physician.
“This new building will be state of the art in terms of its functionality in provision of services to our residents and families, with a homelike environment for comfort and convenience. Its true beauty, however, will be in the professional services provided within its walls, including a full-time doctor,” Hunter said.
“The Tennessee General Assembly and Gov. Bill Haslam this year approved a bill allowing the state’s nursing homes to hire physicians. This will be a great assurance to residents and families to know that our facility will have a doctor available 40 hours a week overseeing clinical services.”
Hunter credited state Reps. Art Swann and Bob Ramsey and Sen. Doug Overbey with supporting the legislation that passed in March.
“We’re now in the process of interviewing doctors for our nursing centers in Tennessee,” he said.
Bounce back factor
In states where nursing homes are allowed to have full-time physicians on staff, Life Care Centers has found medical costs are reduced for patients and residents, according to Hunter.
The financial benefit comes from a decrease in the “bounce back” rate. Bounce back refers to a patient returning to a hospital soon after being discharged. Studies have show hospital charges for bounce back patients are considerable higher than for the initial admission.
Hunter said national statistics show a bounce back rate of 25 percent when patients are released from hospitals to nursing homes.
“In nursing centers where we’ve had the experience of full-time doctors, we have been able to reduce bounce back to 12.5 percent.”
He cited other benefits of having a full-time doctor on staff: a greater assurance of the quality of care, a rise in the level of family satisfaction, improved development of the staff and the ability to have in-house training with a physician.
“We’re now in the process of interviewing doctors for our nursing centers in Tennessee,” Hunter said.
Life Care is headquartered in Cleveland, Tenn., and operates or manages more than 220 nursing, post-acute and Alzheimer’s centers in 28 states.