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The county-owned nursing home Vermilion Manor in Virginia is looking to increase the bottom line. Last year it lost money, and a consultant hired to address the problem has the answer: reduce the number of nurses.

According to the News Gazett, the consultant found that the nursing facility provides daily nursing that exceeds the state and national averages, so cutting nursing hours, he concludes, would definitely improve profitability.

The nursing home administration has already been reducing personnel costs in various ways for more than a year and trying to adjust staffing hours based on the number of residents, which fluctuates. The number of nurses on day shift has decreased from 10 last year to eight this year; the number on night shifts from four to three; and the total number of certified nursing assistants has gone from 58 to 45.

[Consultant] Harmon said with three-fourths of this current year “in the can,” it looks as if the nursing home’s cost-containment measures and attempts to raise revenues by increasing the number of residents is working and should result in a profit.

He added that the facility could be profitable as a privately operated facility, if the county chose to go that route.

This story mirrors what we are seeing in California, that the operators of nursing homes are becoming more and more profit-driven as opposed to care-driven, particularly the large chains. And while every home has the right to be profitable, it is a business of course, it should not do so at the expense of patient care. I wish the best of luck to Vermilion Manor. But earning a bit more profit while increasing exposure to liability for nursing malpractice is a recipe for disaster.

For more information on this subject, please refer to our section on Nursing Home and Elder Abuse.

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