DBH Management Consultants facilitated a call with members of the Arkansas General Assembly and Reliance Health Care executives on Thursday, March 19.   Reliance Health Care owns 38 skilled nursing facilities in 32 different locations across Arkansas.   Over 60 legislators with one or more facilities in their districts were invited to participate in the call.

Eric Bell, Chief Legal Counsel for Reliance, led the call for Reliance with additional Reliance executives participating.

The Reliance executives participating were:

Brandon Adams, Chief Executive Officer; John Ellis, Chief Operating Officer; and Tobey Koehler, Chief Financial Officer.

In attendance on the phone were the Chairman of both the Senate and House Public Health Committees – Senator Missy Irvin and Representative Jack Ladyman, along with close to fifty legislators.

The purpose of the call was to give an update on the current situation at the skilled nursing facilities, preparedness actions taken, and discuss potential future issues.

As expected, visitation to these facilities has been drastically restricted. All staff members and allowed visitors are processed through admission and re-admission screening procedures. Infection control procedures and assessment guidelines from CMS and the Arkansas Department of Health are being strictly followed. Reliance has been diligent in cleaning and sanitization procedures throughout each facility.

The discussion turned to current supplies of personal protection equipment or “PPE” as we are learning to call these necessities. PPE includes gowns, face shields, booties, gloves, etc. and most health care providers are currently experiencing inventory shortages of these necessities. Reliance has implemented approved cleaning and re-use procedures for these where applicable and has been successful in locating additional vendors to purchase from in order to have reserves on hand.

Senator Irvin expressed concern for rural health care clinics around the state and the shortage of these supplies. Senator Irvin’s husband is a physician in Mountain View.

Currently, staffing is not an issue at any of the Reliance homes and morale is good. There are several employees who have been tested and placed in isolation pending those test results, but so far there is no shortage of personnel to care for the residents at any of the facilities.

Hospice care has been taken in-house where practicable. Exceptions are when the patient needs a specialty drug or procedure that must be implemented by a hospice professional.

Senator Kim Hammer asked several direct questions relating to hospice care, and he also expressed the potential need of shortening the training time for Certified Nursing Assistants in order to quickly provide additional staff in the event of a staffing shortage.

In order to keep residents in contact with their families, each facility has been given three iPads.   The staff uses these iPads to allow each resident 30 minutes a day to “Skype” with family members. It is extremely important to keep anxiety levels down as much as possible and being able to see and visit with family is key to this.

In anticipation of a backlog in processing of Medicare and Medicaid payments, the Reliance team has been working with lenders, partners and suppliers to ensure that there will be no interruption in the care of their residents.

CEO Brandon Adams concluded the Reliance presentation by praising all employees at these facilities. He re-iterated that morale was good, and that these caregivers and staff members had stepped up during this challenging time. He complimented the families of the residents and stated that they had had very few complaints and that family members have been understanding and supportive.

Bruce Hawkins facilitated a question and answer period at the end of the call. Bruce and the entire DBH Team have received very positive feedback from numerous legislators thanking the DBH Team for facilitating this call. Numerous legislators have told us how beneficial the call was and have expressed an overall appreciation for the time spent by the team members and the information provided.