2013-09-19 / Front Page

MCF continues fight to survive

Official urges public, board to focus on positive

MANISTIQUE – Things at the Schoolcraft County Medical Care Facility are looking up, this according to its new director of administration and finance. The official provided an update during Tuesday’s meeting of the Schoolcraft County Board of Commissioners.

Mike Stephenson, of Atlanta, Mich., is working on a temporary basis until the facility learns of its fate in November. At that point, an up to 1.5 millage will either pass or fail – and the facility will either stay open or close.

Stephenson replaced administrator Jerry Hubbard, who resigned in August to take a position with the Marquette County Medical Care Facility. Despite only being on the job for seven days, Stephenson said he and other staff members have already dug in.

“I am absolutely amazed with these people and the staff,” he said.

Understanding the negativity surrounding the facility, Stephenson asked the commissioners to focus on the positive, and to keep the MCF residents in mind.

“For somebody that’s in a nursing home, stability in their environment is very critical,” he said. “When an organization like this is going through stress … it impacts the staff; and try as they might, that stress can pass on to the residents.”

I know there’s a whole lot of other background noise – I don’t want the residents to be in the background,” he continued. “My responsibility is the residents. My responsibility is to make sure the staff can do their job.”

Stephenson said he was anxious to get started at the facility, especially since it has earned a five out of five star ranking from the state. The ranking is based on health inspection, staffing, and quality measures.

“We’re a five star facility – not everyone in the state can claim that,” he said. “That says a lot to me.”

Not only is the MCF board “great”, Stephenson said, but the staff is proving to be even better, despite what he termed as “very significant management restructuring.”

He noted that it’s been an “all hands on deck” approach to the facility’s finances, and that the rest of the staff has participated in team building and meets daily.

“We’re brainstorming and fixing little issues,” he said. “The cooperation that I see is very impressive.”

One such issue Stephenson explained he would be addressing in the near future is the hiring process. He said improvements are needed to bring some objectivity to the procedure, adding that the human resources department doesn’t have a degreed professional, which is not typical for a facility this size.

As far as the finances are concerned, Stephenson said the numbers from August have been trickling in and that it looks positive thus far.

“I’m seeing dramatic improvement in the bottom line,” he said. “That’s some of the cost savings that we’re starting to realize, and some of the changes that we made.”

He noted that while the census had gone up to as high as 78 for the 80-bed facility, it has trailed off again in September, and now hovers at 70.

“That’s not an uncommon rollercoaster ride in census,” he said.

The facility recently wrote-off approximately $400,000 in uncollectable receivables, leaving expected revenue in that line item at just over $1 million.

“Cash has been and, obviously, continues to be an issue,” he said. “Accounts receivable are starting to improve.”

He noted the facility would continue to do everything it can to stay positive and bring money into the facility.

“So far, it’s gone very well,” he said. “I’m pretty excited about where we can go from it.”

The Schoolcraft County Medical Care Facility’s ranking with the state of Michigan can be viewed at www.medicare.gov, by searching under the Manistique zip code.

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