Rifle vets nursing home in danger of closing | AspenTimes.com

Rifle vets nursing home in danger of closing

John Colson
Post Independent
Aspen, CO Colorado

RIFLE, Colo. – The veterans nursing home in Rifle is losing money and may be in danger of closing its doors, according to a recent state auditing report.

The Colorado State Veterans Nursing Home in Rifle, which opened in 1987, reportedly is more than $2.8 million in the red and has annual expenses that far exceed its revenues, according to a newly released report by the Office of the State Auditor.

The facility has lost money for five of the past 10 years, according to the audit.

The Rifle facility is one of only a handful around the state that meet the requirements of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and gets funding from the VA benefits programs.

The Rifle vets home has 100 beds for skilled nursing care, including a 16-bed Special Care Unit for residents with Alzheimer’s Disease or related conditions, and as of this year 75 percent of its occupants were veterans.

The auditor’s report was for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2010, but the summary statement notes that “the home has had substantial losses over the prior periods” and that the accumulated losses “raise substantial doubt about its ability to continue as a going concern.”

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The main problem, according to the audit, is that the home is paying too much in employee benefits and personnel services.

In 2006, the last audit performed, the facility recorded roughly $100,000 surplus, with revenues of $6.8 million and operating expenses of $6.7 million.

In 2010, the audit reported revenues had risen to $7.6 million, but expenses shot up to nearly $8.6 million. The report notes that while expenses rose by 31 percent over the four-year period, revenues went up by only 15 percent.

Of that nearly $2 million increase in expenses, more than $1.7 million was in personnel services and employee benefits, according to the audit.

Also high on the list of problems uncovered by the audit, according to the summary, is that the home “does not have an employee with the knowledge to adequately prepare financial statements … in accordance with generally accepted accounting practices.”

The auditors suggested, and the nursing home management agreed, to start using “available resources” within state government to improve its accounting practices.

The report notes that, prior to June 2010, the Rifle home’s billing was handled by the Fitzsimons vets nursing home in Aurora, which also is bleeding red ink. The audit reports that some of Rifle’s accounting problems predate the local management’s assumption of billing responsibility.

The administrator at the Rifle facility did not respond to a request for comment by deadline on Thursday.

jcolson@postindependent.com

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