Today SB 5594 was had public comments in the Senate Health Committee (Washington State)
There are actually some wonderful new ideas expressed in this bill (Federally Qualified Comprehensive Community Healthcare Clinic!!) but plans to consolidate from a combined campus of a skilled nursing facility and an intermediate care facility to just a skilled nursing facility is troubling. This is not explicitly written in the language but it is clear this is the goal.
The bill states a building at Fircrest must be remodeled and updated to serve as a skilled nursing facility. Other steps must be taken to consolidate other buildings and ensure residents are provided the opportunity to stay at Fircrest or move into the community.
Given that Fircrest will only have a skilled nursing facility, what will happen to the residents who are not eligible for those services but choose to stay at Fircrest in an ICF/ID? The bill does not address this population that currently resides at Fircrest.
“Former Fircrest School residents who fail to succeed in the community may, after repeated failures, remain in the community or may choose to move to another residential habilitation center; however, former Fircrest School residents may not return to Fircrest School.”
The other HUGE issue is that the community is far from ready to be able to accommodate the needs of the number of residents who may choose to live off campus. Already there is a long waiting list for housing, staff and other services.
The critical issue that needs to be addressed before any changes can be made is that of supported living wages and supports. These wages and supports need to be appropriately funded to provide the services. This is the system that will provide stability, success and sustainability to community residential settings and is the issue that needs to be addressed as a first step to any issues of consolidation of the intermediate care facility.