Mullen rest home will close unless it finds CNAs, director, night nurse | Health and Fitness

Sadye Matula

Gerri Peterson Hooker County Tribune For Mullen’s Pioneer Memorial Rest Home to stay open, a director of nursing, a night nurse and several certified nursing assistants must be hired. Interim Director of Nursing Nolan Gurnsey’s last day is March 23. If a new director isn’t hired by then, the state […]

For Mullen’s Pioneer Memorial Rest Home to stay open, a director of nursing, a night nurse and several certified nursing assistants must be hired.

Interim Director of Nursing Nolan Gurnsey’s last day is March 23. If a new director isn’t hired by then, the state will force the rest home to close.

The Hospital District Board is hosting a special meeting Tuesday morning at the rest home during which the facility’s future will be decided.

At a public informational meeting Feb. 9 at the Lariat, Gurnsey said, “Area community members must step up and work in the facility. Work a day or two a week or month — long term, not temporarily.”

The rest home is struggling to fill three to four nursing shifts every week. Current staff members are working five to seven days a week, 16-hour days.

“Our team here has stepped up as much as they can, and they are doing a great job,” Gurnsey said. “The residents here are very well cared for.”

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Past and present administrators and board members have tried to recruit staff every way they can. But more people are leaving the nursing profession daily. Between COVID-19 vaccination mandates, the stress of having to wear personal protective equipment and more, health care workers are tired.

“It’s hard work, but so rewarding,” Gurnsey said.

If someone is a nursing assistant with an expired certification, the state will renew their license for $50.

Currently anyone over the age of 16 can become a temporary CNA with an eight-hour online class, followed by testing and then training at the nursing home. This program may be expanded but is currently only good through March 31.

An online CNA class will begin Monday.

Anyone interested in these options can contact the rest home at 308-546-2216.

But while staffing is one of the rest home’s concerns, so is revenue.

And the fact that the rest home building is old and needs updates soon, including a new roof at the price tag of about $90,000.

Gurnsey said money through a foundation that once was to be used to build a new facility is no longer available because of the pandemic’s impact on the investors’ money.

As of last week’s meeting, the rest home had 17 residents, and it is licensed for 30. But while beds are available, the home cannot admit new residents without having a director of nursing.

Because of the staffing shortage, the rest home is operating at over 50% agency, which means they are hiring traveling nurses through agencies. Those agencies charge triple what a local nurse would cost.

Just like everywhere else, the rest home’s costs have increased in the past year too — about $100,000 more in both labor and supplies, according to Gurnsey.

Administration has applied for grants and continues to seek other grant opportunities, but no grants help with the operations.

While the rest home won’t say no to financial donations, donors must be aware that the money will not guarantee that the facility remains open but will be used to take care of the residents for as long as possible.

Jo Fuller of Rural Health Development also spoke at the public meeting last week.

“You are not alone here, she said. “I can’t paint you a rosy picture tonight. We are all suffering the same problem.”

Several Nebraska rest homes closed in 2021, and more are looking at closing this year.

Gurnsey said the rest home is losing $50,000-$90,000 a month now.

“If you are looking at closing, sooner rather than later makes us able to give the staff a severance,” he said.

Gurnsey said the possibility of closure has come up several times over the years.

“Closure will affect the grocery, the school, families — and most of all it will affect the residents,” he said.

“This is not anyone’s fault,” he added. “It’s not a lack of effort from the board or previous administrators.”

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