A Virginia nursing home CEO who has decided to axe himself, rather than sacrifice care at his institution, has been “inundated with calls” and received several job offers.
News broke last week about the sad story of Chris Oswald who, for 18 years, has served as CEO of Blue Ridge Village in Martinsville, VA. Medicare Advantage has crippled the long-term care component of his organization, drastically shortening lengths of stay and resident census. On average, they’re housing about 50 residents less than is typical, spelling a $3 million dip in revenues, Oswald said.
Reached Friday on his last day of duty, Oswald told McKnight’s that he’s received an outpouring of support from his tight-knit community. He also said he’s received “several” job offers or invites to meetings to discuss possible future work.
“Everyone is calling and wishing me the best, but also concerned about what is one of the largest providers in the area and making sure that we’re going to continue operating,” he said. “I’ve been inundated with calls.”
Oswald is still not quite sure whether he wants to stay in the long-term care business, and said that he’d like to take a little bit of time to decompress. He doesn’t even have a resume, having been situated in the “perfect job” for so long.
“It’s not easy, caring for residents 24/7 with all of the obstacles, both financial and otherwise,” he noted. “It’s a daily battle but a rewarding one.”
Oswald, 58, said he also offered his resignation to the organization’s board six and three months ago before they finally accepted recently. Blue Ridge is still working on renegotiating contracts with vendors and a lien holder. They’re also exploring taking on more behavioral health patients as a way to up the census. But the future of long-term care worries him.
“This is not a Blue Ridge Rehab problem, this is not a Martinsville problem, it’s a nationwide problem,” he told McKnight’s. “Because the Medicare Advantage programs and the privatization of Medicare is hitting everyone, and we’re all looking for different sources of revenue to continue to operate. We’re in competition with every other nursing home in the country to try and figure out how we can continue to operate profitably.”
Even if it’s not as dramatic as cutting your own job, Oswald encouraged his CEO peers who might be facing similar budget constraints to be creative when looking for savings.
“Take the time to explore every option before you do what would be the easy way out, and that’s cutting benefits and wages and services. There’s got to be a better way,” he said.