January 7, 2021
I last wrote an update about Homeward Bound’s activities related to closing the Brooklyn Park facility and opening several smaller homes in August.
I highlighted some of the challenges to closing Brooklyn Park and then mentioned that these had resolved. While the waiver rate-setting system is not perfect, it is now likely that the individuals who live at Brooklyn Park could get waiver rates sufficient to fund the services they need.
Since then, the COVID challenge we face has only grown more pronounced in its effects. While we have dramatically reduced the outbreak at Brooklyn Park and contained it, the fact remains that the costs of COVID are such that the facility is not sustainable. The state has not helped residential providers of individuals with disabilities in any sufficient way, and it may even work to
reduce rates if its forecasted budget for 2021-2023 continues in
COVID imposes formidable, unreimbursed costs onto providers. Personal Protective Equipment or PPE, higher staff costs in overtime, hazard pay, and pool staffing run very high. Two new costs have appeared that have sufficient budgetary implications since August. One is it appears that it will be months before the individuals will be able to return to their day programs. This means we have to staff daytime hours, which equals approximately a 30% increase in hours. While we do receive some additional dollars for these hours, the funds are nowhere near sufficient to cover the cost and severe pressure of finding enough staff.
Another issue is HBI has always had a high turnover of individuals living in its homes because of their compromised health. With a pandemic raging, it is extremely difficult to arrange for new arrivals who want to move into a program. Over the last 6 months, HBI has had a difficult time arranging for new residents to move into Brooklyn Park and is consequently suffering a high revenue loss. It has had to close one of its four units to ensure staffing at the other three.
So, we are beginning preliminary work on planning a closure. That includes discussions with the county on the process they want to follow and doing some preliminary budgeting. But I want to emphasize that we are still a long ways from actually beginning the closure of the facility. Management will continue planning a closure budget to see where we are and if we really can do this thing. We will gather information from Hennepin County and the state of Minnesota about planning. So there is lots of work to be done before we get going. I promise to keep you all informed.