February 25, 2024

Nonprofit Nursing Home Seeks “Christmas Miracle” Donations

Linn Health & Rehabilitation fighting rampant inflation and chronic Rhode Island Medicaid underfunding

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East Providence, R.I. (November 30, 2023): An East Providence nonprofit nursing home is working hard to prevent displacing its 70 residents and 150+ staff members.

Linn Health & Rehabilitation, which was just named a 2024 “Best Nursing Home” and “High-Performing” short-term rehabilitation home in the nation by U.S. News & World Report, has been fighting rampant inflation, rising food and utility costs, high temporary staffing agency rates, and low state Medicaid reimbursement rates that haven’t kept pace with increasing expenses in over 10 years.

First opened in the 1970s, Linn is a mission-based skilled nursing community that cares for the most vulnerable elders regardless of payer source. “Most of our residents are on Medicaid and don’t have families who can take care of them. We are their family and support system, and some have been discharged from other assisted living communities because they ran out of money,” states Richard Gamache, MS, FACHCA, chief executive officer of Aldersbridge Communities which is the nonprofit organization that operates Linn Health.

Gamache has held numerous meetings with peers, local legislators, government decision-makers, and leaders of trade associations in search of solutions. “I have proposed options such as bridge funding and higher Medicaid reimbursement rates, as many other states have done to address this nationwide problem. It seems only nursing home residents, their families, employees, leaders of surviving homes that are hanging by their fingernails, and some advocacy groups care about the financial predicament we are in. We’ve made everyone aware and we will not stop fighting for funding that we need,” he states.

Since 2022, six nursing homes in Rhode Island have shut their doors permanently, not counting the four that closed prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. Three more have filed for bankruptcy. Bleeding cash, many nursing homes throughout the United States are in the same financial situation. “Linn’s Medicaid reimbursement rate averages $255 per patient per day, and it costs $411 to care for each patient per day,” states Jamie L. Sanford, LNHA, LCSW, administrator of Linn Health & Rehabilitation. “The general population thinks that nursing homes make a lot of money. Perhaps that’s true in some for-profit organizations where they are owned by large corporations, but nonprofit homes are robbing Peter to pay Paul. These are the homes – like us – that are on life support, operationally speaking.”

One of the underlying issues related to Medicaid underfunding is that the State of Rhode Island has not conducted the required adjustment of Medicaid reimbursement rates as is mandated by law. “Essentially, the state is breaking its own law by not conducting this rearray every three years, which was put in place to keep up with the national nursing home inflation index. The last rearray was in October of 2012. Even with an increase next fall, it won’t be enough to help close the funding gap now,” notes Michael Cole, vice president of the Board of Trustees for Aldersbridge Communities.

Aldersbridge leaders have been working their own grassroots outreach campaign as a “Hail Mary” effort to save Linn from having to displace its staff and residents, some of whom are over 100 years old. Fewer nursing homes mean fewer choices for residents and staff to relocate. Hospitals also have fewer affordable discharge options for patients in need of rehabilitation and post-acute care.

The residents and staff at Linn are doing everything they can, including holding baked goods sales to raise funds. “No one wants to leave Linn, and no one wants us to be sold to another organization,” Sanford comments. “During this season of holiday miracles, we’re working to find donors who believe in what we’re doing now and for our future. There must be a donor out there who can help us fight the proverbial ‘grinch’ that is causing nursing homes to disappear throughout the country and in our state. All we want for Christmas is to keep caring for our residents who depend on us.”

Interested charitable organization and donors may contact Aldersbridge Communities Director of Development Elise Strom at estrom@aldersbridge.org  401-438-4456 ext. 136.

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