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Federal government gives Golden View 5 stars for nursing home care; county home rates 4

LACONIA — The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the federal agency that oversees the two programs pursued in partnership with the states, has introduced a new system of rating nursing homes designed to enable consumers, families and caregivers to make comparisons when choosing a long-term care facility.

The new scoring system represents a raising of the bar that left 61 percent of the U.S. 15,000 nursing homes with lower ratings and only 34, 2.3 percent, with higher ratings than before. The rating apply only to those nursing homes caring for residents enrolled in Medicare or Medicaid.

CMS has rated 76 nursing homes in New Hampshire, including seven county nursing homes. The Belknap County Nursing home was awarded an overall score of four stars as well as four stars for health inspection, staffing and quality measures. The nursing homes in Hillsborough and Sullivan counties also rated four stars while those in Coos, Grafton and Merrimack received five stars. The Rockingham County Nursing Home trailed the field with three stars.

The Belknap County Nursing Home fared well in comparison with private facilities in the Lakes Region. Golden View Hralth Care Center was the only private facility in the region to rate five stars. Laconia Center on Bluebrry Lane in Laconia and Mountain Ridge Center in Franklin, both operated by Genesis Healthcare, each received four stars. The Saint Francis Rehabilitation and Nursing Center on Court Street in Laconia rated three stars and the Wolfeboro Bay Center in Wolfeboro just two stars.

The five-star rating system assigns each nursing home between one and five stars, with five stars signifying quality much above average and one star signifying quality much below average. There is an overall rating for each nursing home and separate ratings based on health inspections, staffing levels and quality measures.

The health inspection rating draws on information collected at the nursing homes by trained inspectors during the past three years, with the most findings weighted more heavily than the earlier findings. Inspectors follow a defined process designed to determine the extent to which a nursing home has met the minimum quality requirements set by Medicare and Medicaid. More than 180,000 on-site reviews are used in the scoring process.

The staffing rating applies data indicating the number of hours of care provided to each resident each day by the nursing staff and takes into account differences in the levels of care required by the residents of different facilities.

The quality measures is comprised of 11 different physical and clinical measures that indicate how well nursing homes are caring for their residents. More than 12-million assessments of the conditions in nursing homes are incorporated in the rating.



Last Updated on Wednesday, 04 March 2015 02:14

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LRPA's 3 channels will go dark for cable TV subscribers in 13 townships

LACONIA — Lakes Region Public Access television will withhold its signal from a baker's dozen of towns in the Lakes Region that declined its offer to join the consortium and contribute to its operating budget.

Chan Eddy of Gilford, president of the Board of Directors of LRPA, said yesterday that Alexandria, Alton, Barnstead, Bridgewater, Bristol, Deerfield, Gilmanton, Hebron, New Hampton, Northfield, Pittsfield, Sanbornton and Tilton will go dark on March 20. Only Alton had been a paying member of LRPA. The other towns did not provide programming to the public access channels, but received the signal via MetroCast channels 24, 25 and 26.

Eddy explained that LRPA adopted a new business model in response to the new cable franchise agreement negotiated with MetroCast by a consortium of municipalities, which left the station scrambling to fund its operations. Traditionally, LRPA received an annual $30,000 grant from MetroCast and contributions from municipalities belonging to the consortium that negotiated the original cable franchise agreement with MetroCast. Those contributions were intended to come from the franchise fees MetroCast pays communities, based on the number of subscribers. The new cable franchise agreement eliminated the grant from MetroCast and enabled municipalities to produce their own programming.

The new business plan, which is akin to the models of public radio and television, calls for soliciting contributions from municipalities as well as sponsorships from businesses in the region. Eddy said that contributions have been received from the city of Laconia and four townships — Belmont, Gilford, Meredith and Northwood.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 04 March 2015 02:48

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Alton will look for a new, full-time school superintendent

ALTON — Following a lengthy public discussion before a large crowd about how the Alton Central School District should be administered, the School Board decided unanimously Monday night to advertise for a full-time superintendent and a full-time principal.

The board said it ideally seeks a superintendent with skills in curriculum development and kindergarten through 8th grade experience. The position of curriculum directer would be eliminated under this restructuring.

The district will also be advertizing for a Special Education director and a Food Services manager. The incumbents will retire this year.

Alton Central School is a K-8 elementary/middle school with 515 students — down by about 15 students from last year.

With the resignation of current Superintendent William Lander and his decision to withdraw his application for one-year of superintendent and curriculum services contract using "YET", a company he formed with Gilford Middle School Principal Sydney Leggett, the district finds itself behind the proverbial eight ball.

Typically in education circles and according to ACS school board members, the ideal time to seek high level administrators is in January and February. With a March 27 deadline for applications that will sent to the board first and a later review by a citizens/teachers committee, the earliest the district could hire either position would be May 1.

Alton Central School has an assistant principal, Linda Wilmer, who has submitted all of her paperwork to become a certified principal to the state and who has expressed a desire to stay with the school should she become certified by the state.

She led the public input session with a gripe of her own.

Wilmer, who has become a social media target because her husband is the president of Profile Bank — the bank chosen by YET to ask for financing — addressed her concern for her family's reputation and demanded write-in candidate Barbara Howard apologize to them for her accusations of impropriety.

Ken Wilmer explained that as bank president, he has no active role in commercial lending, and YET's loan application like any other similar application, went to a different department.

He said the letter sent by YET to his bank was "worthless" and "not worth the paper and ink it was written on."

Howard did apologize but still maintained that Ken Wilmer was "operating under the radar".

Linda Wilmer said she didn't think Howard made a satisfactory apology and Howard left the rooms shortly thereafter.

Wilmer also noted that, in her opinion, the School Board was "dysfunctional." As examples she noted the turnover in administrators and that fact that the board has hired three previous superintendents who had created their own LLCs yet chose to attack Lander for doing the same thing.

She also addressed allegations of intimidation of employees by the board.

"The fear and retaliation should stop," she said, adding that children shouldn't have to fear not making a sports team because one of their parents spoke their mind at a School Board meeting. No direct evidence of retaliation was offered.

After the meeting settled down, the public spoke mostly about continuity in leadership.

Alton Teachers Association President Joan Cross and the many teachers who spoke after her, said four superintendents in as many years was too much for them.

She also said she sent a questionnaire with six questions to all of her membership.

Cross said two of the questions were irrelevant because of Lander's resignation and the withdrawal of YET as an applicant for the task, but the other four still applied.

She said 84 percent of the teachers (only two didn't reply) said they would like Wilmer to stay as principal. They described her as "approachable and hardworking."

Fifty-four percent were in favor of starting the hiring process for principal immediately while 44 percent were against it. Comments included additional support for Wilmer.

She said 81 percent of the teachers wanted some kind of consultation about the type of person who should be hired as superintendent and 19 percent were against it. In addition, 93 percent of the teachers felt parents should also be able to discuss the kind of person they want for superintendent while 5 percent said no.
There was also some discussion — likely to be addressed in the future — about declining enrollments and the possibility of combining elementary schools with Barnstead and/or Gilmanton in the future.

A few people mentioned that they were still concerned with transparency in the process as it goes forward.

At the end of the public comment time (which lasted almost two hours) parent Paul Monzioni who is also an attorney said the board should consult with its lawyers when hiring for a superintendent, especially if he or she has incorporated and added "LLC" (Limited Liability Company" to their name.

He said in his opinion, LLC's are businesses and the Right To Know Law does not give a company the same rights to be considered as "personnel" as defined. A superintendent who is acting on his or her own, said Monzioni, is protected by the personnel clause.

"Get real good legal information," he cautioned the board.


CUTLINE: (Lander) Superintendent William "Bill" Lander responds to a question at Monday nights Alton Central School Board meeting while board Chair Sandy Wyatt (left) listens to him. (Laconia Daily Sun photo/Gail Ober)

Last Updated on Wednesday, 04 March 2015 02:00

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Burchell fears cost of added staffing will drive 'community corrections' jail model beyond county's tolerance for taxes

LACONIA — Richard Burchell (R-Gilmanton), who was apparently ousted as commission chairman by his colleagues Monday morning, gave a one-man presentation following the commission's meeting on progress on a plan being developed for a so-called community corrections center for the county.
''This is a discussion we should be having in Belknap County,'' said Burchell, who expressed skepticism that there was an appetite in the county for spending the amount of money he thinks it will take to build and staff an inmate rehabilitation and education center.
Burchell said that there was a meeting held Friday at the county jail which he attended along with Corrections Superintendent Dan Ward and Kevin Warwick and Ross Cunningham of Alternative Solutions Associates, Inc., the firm the county hired for $40,000 to develop a program for a community corrections facility.
He said that the study so far is focused on an approximately 30,000-square-foot facility with 64 beds which would cost between $7-$8 million and would require between seven and 10 new staff members.
Burchell suggested it would be less expensive for the county in the long run to build a $14-million jail along traditional lines because there would be a minimal staffing increase which would hold down future staffing costs compared to what it would cost for a community corrections facility.
The roughly outlined community corrections facility plan for the county would see 30 treatment beds, 20 for men and 10 for women, and 34 work release beds, 24 for men and 10 for women. The new facility, which would be built next to the current jail and possibly connected to it, would be of heavy commercial grade construction, several steps below the type of construction needed for a secure jail facility.
It would provide residential minimum security treatment as well as group space for programs.
Staffing requirements would be five correctional staff and a supervisor while program staff would entail three clinicians, two case managers, a full-time administrative assistant and half-time clerical position.
Burchell said that the Sullivan County Community Corrections Center, which county commissioners have eyed as a model for a Belknap County program, requires up to 300 hours of programming per inmate, which requires a large investment in staff.
He said that Belknap County Commissioners will need to take a close look at the associated costs, noting that if the staffing increase isn't funded a facility built to the community corrections standard would be ''a soft building which will get kicked to pieces'' by inmates.
Other key considerations under study include a control room replacement for the current facility with a complete security system for a cost of $350,000, as well as upgrade to the HVAC system for the existing jail with an eye to also having it handle the community corrections facility as well.
The initial recommendations by the consulting firm will be made to commissioners at a March 24 meeting with consultants providing recommendations for adjustments to the Ricci Greene plan square footage, which was 94,000-square-feet, in April. It is envisioned that the county would hire an architect in May to design a community corrections facility and review projected renovation costs to the current facility.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 04 March 2015 01:57

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