About 80 people turned out Tuesday night in Crawford to hear a plea for more support of the city-owned Ponderosa Villa Nursing Home and Assisted Living.
They also heard a warning that without such support, it may have to close sometime in the future.
Crawford has contracted since 2010 with Rural Health Development for management services for Ponderosa Villa, and company president Ron Ross was thrilled with the evening.
Some 20 Nebraska nursing homes closed 2 years ago, nearly all in smaller towns, and Ponderosa Villa administrator Stephanie Huffman became emotional as she described the physical, emotional, and financial impacts on those towns and the nursing home residents of the closures – urging the audience not to let it happen in Crawford.
Most of the 2-hour session, though, focused on the type of support being sought – financial donations, lobbying lawmakers to raise the medicaid reimbursement rate for nursing homes, and especially residents helping eliminate a major staffing shortage.
Audience members were urged to take an 8-hour online course and become a certified nursing assistant or CNA, then work as little as a single 12-hour shift a week. Ross says there’s no one solution to the Villa’s financial problems, but getting more CNA help would go a long way.
Health care facilities, especially nursing homes, have struggled for years to fill CNA and other positions and that the problem has gotten worse with the pandemic as employment agencies specializing in health care have more than doubled their previous rates to fill the gaps. Ross says while it’s not illegal, it is immoral.
Ross, a former Nebraska state treasurer, says nursing homes fill a vital role in the healthcare continuum and in the healthy life of a community.