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Nursing home plans marketing campaign

August 26, 1998|By DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - New federal regulations will make the health-care field more competitive in the future so the administration of the Franklin County Nursing Home is planning a marketing campaign to attract more business.

Administrator Christopher Bailey said the marketing campaign will begin Tuesday and will include print and radio ads later in the month. The goal, he said, "is not to rely on taxpayer funds and generate enough revenues to pay our own expenses."

Bailey said the federal Balanced Budget Act will change the Medicare payment formula "from retrospective to prospective." Under the current system, Medicare reimburses providers for services rendered.

"Cost didn't matter to Medicare in the past," he said.

That will change with the prospective system of payment as Medicare establishes how much can be spent on services. Providers, such as nursing homes, that can deliver those services for less can pocket the difference.

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Bailey said the U.S. Health Care Finance Administration has announced cuts beginning next year in the range of 18 percent, meaning providers will be chasing fewer dollars.

If the home starts to generate a surplus, County Commissioner G. Warren Elliott said it could be spent improving the facility and its services rather than being put in a reserve fund.

Part of the marketing process has already begun. Earlier this year, the commissioners changed the home's name to the Falling Spring Nursing and Rehabilitation Center.

That reflects the addition of orthopedic, neurological, cardiac and pediatric rehabilitation programs that are drawing business other than nursing home residents. Bailey said the campaign also will promote Franklin Meadows, the home's Alzheimer's unit.

Bailey said the wider range of services means more people coming to the home for temporary stays and treatment, "not just a place to finish your final days."

According to Bailey, the home will have a new logo, signs, brochures and letterhead. Marketing for this year is budgeted at about $21,000, he said.

Much of the promotional work will require more time than money. Bailey said staff will visit professional referral services, civic groups and senior citizens' centers to drum up business. An open house will be held on Sept. 16 from 1 to 7 p.m.

As recently as three years ago, the county spent more than $1 million a year subsidizing the operation of the home, which has a $7.4 million budget this year. For 1998, the county budgeted $93,000 to cover the gap between revenues and expenses at the 224-bed home.

Bailey said promoting the home now can generate the business needed to keep it from slipping back into deep red ink.

"If we don't do a good job of attracting people, we won't have a full facility and we won't be operating in the black," he told the commissioners Tuesday.

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