County facility nervous over impact
One local nursing facility is nervous about the financial impact of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s mandate that employees must be tested twice a week.
Lisa Haglund, chief executive officer of Heritage Ministries, said on Tuesday that while her organization has appreciated the state’s previous precautionary measures, this mandate, in particular, is the “hardest to date.”
“This mandate, even if they can supply us test kits, can cost us anywhere from $500,000 to $1 million dollars a month,” she said. “We are also self-insured. The processing for those tests all falls to us while in the middle of being a not-for-profit in this pandemic.”
Haglund suggested that the mandate be adjusted to have employees tested once every 14 days rather that twice a week out of consideration for the finances of nursing facilities.
“On top of the financial aspect, I’m going to get tested a second time this week before the other round of test results are even probably back,” she said, noting that there is a five-day turnaround between being tested and receiving the results.
“The ones we’re being sent and the one lab the state has asked us to work with, typically it’s a five-day turnaround time. However, with the quantity that we’re getting, it may take longer than that,” she said. “We’re still in our first round and we’re just getting our first results back. But, even if it’s five days in the best world, if I’m tested on a Monday and I’m tested again Friday morning, my results for the first test might not be back until Friday night probably.”
“The good news is, throughout this whole time, we’ve been a step ahead,” Haglund added. “We currently got our first round of test results back. We are completely COVID-free in all of our facilities and we have 800 employees just in Chautauqua County and we continue to be able to say we are ahead of the curve. All the residents and all the employees that have been tested are COVID free. The financial impact is significant, though.”
The absence of positive cases, Haglund explained, will aid the organization in the short-term.
“I couldn’t begin to tell you of how proud I am of our employees and our team,” she said. “From a staffing perspective, because we’re COVID-free we’re able to keep up with it We also have our own doctors and nurses on staff, so that’s really been beneficial to us and the fact that we have 800 employees and serve 1,400 residents a year in Chautauqua County and remain three months into this COVID-free, which of course could change at any point, is a testament of how hard our team has worked to do the right things.”
But, financially, testing will create a significant financial blow for the local non-profit, faith-based organization which operates skilled nursing facilities locally in Jamestown, Gerry and Greenhhurst.
“Long term and short term the financial blow is really going to start hitting us right away,” she said. “But, the financial impact, the staffing impact for morale to be tested twice a week, there’s just so many different variables that could hurt us in the long run.”