Although no layoffs are planned, a dozen full-time certified nurse’s aides at Auburn’s Mercy Health and Rehabilitation Center will likely become part-time employees after the consolidation of in-patient nursing-care floors, according to Steve Ash, the facility’s administrator.
The eight-story facility — which is sponsored by the Sisters of St. Francis of Syracuse and provides elder care and rehabilitation services — began renovations last November that include consolidating its six in-patient nursing-care floors into five, Ash said. The consolidation will be accomplished through a series of patient moves, he said.
The facility is licensed to hold 297 beds, although its actual capacity prior to the renovation was 266 beds with several empty beds on each floor, Ash said. Mercy usually has about 240 occupants at any given time, he added. After the renovations are complete Mercy will house the same number of patients, but the facility will save money by staffing and maintaining one less nursing floor.
“We saw it as an opportunity to really improve our operating efficiency while still fulfilling the community’s needs,” Ash said.
The consolidation will also improve the efficiency of the certified nurse’s aides and eliminate the need for the facility to hire contract-agency staff, he said. Mercy currently employs 128 certified nurse’s aides, and although numbers are not yet definite, Ash said that as of Feb. 9 12 full-time nurse’s aides would be required to change their status to part time. No layoffs are planned, he added.
“No one will be without at least the offer of part-time employment,” Ash said.
The center’s first floor houses offices and an adult day program, and the eighth floor is home to Mercy’s chapel. Once the renovations are complete, the third through seventh floors will be used for in-patient nursing care. By adding six beds each to three of the upper floors, Mercy will be able to house as many as 247 residents on those five nursing floors, Ash said.
The second floor currently houses rehabilitation patients as well as the facility’s treatment-therapy area. The rehabilitation patients will move to one of the facility’s upper floors, but the rehabilitation-treatment therapy program will remain on the second floor and might even be expanded, Ash said.
Several people in the community have mistakenly thought the consolidation means the facility is abandoning its emphasis on rehabilitation, Ash said. The rehabilitation unit’s move will actually provide for a larger bed capacity, he said.
“We’re by no means getting out of the (rehabilitation) business,” he said. “The second floor will no longer be used to house residents, but we’ll continue to use it, as we do now, for our rehabilitation-therapy treatment.”
The renovation and patient moves are expected to be completed by March 6, and Ash hopes many of the nurse’s aides who have been moved to part time will then be able to pick up extra shifts.
The center previously had been sponsored by the Syracuse-based Sisters of the Third Franciscan Order, which merged with two other Franciscan congregations in July 2004 to become the Sisters of St. Francis of Syracuse. Prior to the merger, the Sisters of the Third Franciscan Order had been looking for someone to take over the sponsorship of Mercy Health and Rehabilitation Center, said Sister Gretchen Gilroy, OSF, director of sponsorship activities for the Sisters of St. Francis of Syracuse. The search was unsuccessful, however, and at this point the new congregation is not actively looking for a new sponsor for the facility but may do so in the future.
“Because of (the merger), many of the things that had been going forward are now kind of being looked at again to make sure it’s the direction we want to go from now on,” Sister Gilroy said.