TriHealth ending senior program; 100 jobs affected

By
Courtesy of the Associated Press

Cincinnati-area health system TriHealth announced Wednesday it will end its SeniorLink Program — one of only two sites in Ohio for PACE, the Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly.

About 100 jobs will be lost as a result of the closure, effective Aug. 31, said Steve Mombach, vice president of senior services for TriHealth. Positions include nurses, day health aides, dietary aides, therapists and two physicians.

The program — designed for individuals ages 55 and older who are nursing home eligible under Medicaid — provides long-term and health-related services including adult day health services, personal care and home health services, transportation and meals, physician care and prescription drugs.

The SeniorLink program serves about 400 adults in Butler, Warren, Hamilton and Clermont counties that will transition to community-based programs.

“While we are deeply disappointed SeniorLink is concluding its services, we are committed to doing everything possible to ensure a smooth transition for our employees and our participants,” Mombach said in an internal email sent to staff.

TriHealth’s human resources department is working with the affected employees — who were notified Tuesday — to secure other employment within the health system, Mombach said.

The decision to end SeniorLink was due to additional requirements from the Ohio Department of Aging (ODA) in a new two-year contract that were determined to be too costly, Mombach said. He declined to share what additional requirements were deemed too costly.

“… We had to make the decision that we could not meet the additional requirements and be able to survive financially,” Mombach said in the email to staff.

ODA Director Bonnie Burman said changes made to the contract stem from recommendations by Miami University’s Scripps Gerontology Center, which was asked during the 2012-13 Ohio General Assembly to conduct an evaluation of Ohio’s two PACE sites — the second being McGregor PACE in Cleveland.

Revisions to the contract were made to “ensure programs going forward were responsive to participants’ needs and as cost effective as we expected,” Burman said.

An October 2012 report from Scripps details the need for comparable Medicaid rates at both sites after it was determined Cincinnati’s rate was higher, and the need for PACE eligibility to be done by an independent entity after it was determined some participants were not actually eligible, said Robert Applebaum, director of the Ohio Long-Term Care Research Project at the Scripps center.

“There were things we thought could be more efficient,” Applebaum said. “This is sort of a symptom of the incredibly dynamic world of health and long-term care. The world is changing at a dizzying pace.”

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©2014 the Dayton Daily News (Dayton, Ohio)

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