Bishop, conference working with UM Village to repair relationships, build trust
By Paul Black
LAWRENCEVILLE – Bishop Frank J. Beard and conference officials are working with the administration and board at the United Methodist Village in Lawrenceville following a summer of financial stress triggered by the state’s delay in reimbursements of Medicaid payments for residents at the main and North campuses.
Beard held two listening sessions in Lawrenceville Aug. 23 which was also attended by IGRC Coordinator of Missions and Outreach Bunny Wolfe. IGRC Director of Administrative Services Mike Potts recommended a consultant from Atlanta, Ga., that has worked with other agencies within the United Methodist Association of health and welfare agencies.
“The purpose of my visit was to first and foremost, to listen,” Beard said to the capacity crowds that packed the meeting rooms. “To convey to you my concern and to be a conduit between you and the Board of Directors. To share what we are doing as a Board to move forward in addressing our current situation. To work with the Board, to not only solve our current problems but to make wise plans to move ahead into a brighter future.”
During the two sessions, major issues that were addressed and discussed were:
- Insurance and payroll concerns from staff
- Lack of transparency regarding Board members, meeting dates and access to meetings
- Clarity concerning who serves on the Board and how they are selected
- Questions about hiring and retention of the UMV’s attorney.
- Relationship of UMV to the Conference along with the Conference’s financial responsibility
A cash flow situation occurred in late June in which several employees’ paychecks bounced. While the incident occurred in June, the financial stress had been ongoing as donations to the UMV had covered operating expenses in the past.
In mid-July, a $56,000 unpaid water bill precipitated a threat from the City of Lawrenceville that water service would be shut off. Payment was made later that day.
In late July, an investigation by the Illinois Department of Public Health in response to complaints revealed that in order to bridge cash flow problems, $17,000 had been moved from patient trust fund accounts in order to pay bills beginning in October 2017. A state inspector interviewed staff members and looked at financial records.
The Illinois Department of Public Health says these are violations of state code. In response, the facility submitted a plan of correction and was fined $25,000 by the IDPH. All patient monies have been repaid as part of the plan of correction.
The updates to the original report show the facility is in full compliance and no further action was warranted.
On Aug. 14, a letter was issued to residents. The letter says in part, “To address shortfalls, our senior leadership is laser-focused on timely billings, reductions in expenses that can be made without compromising the quality of care we provide at UMV, and management of salaries and payments to our vendors."
In the release. the board of directors point to a rise in Medicaid rates as good news for the company. The village also points to retiring baby boomers as potential growth for the company and that UMV is searching for a director of finance to "assist in perfecting our system and managing our resources."
The last paragraph addresses the community regarding communication.
"We feel that we have failed by not keeping you and the community informed by the issues we face,” the Board wrote. “As a result, we will begin a series of meetings, newsletters, and social media updates with employees, residents, their families, and our friends in the community."
Bishop Beard’s visit was the first in that series of meetings.
Beard explained that the UMV and the conference are separate financial entities that have a covenant relationship. Churches and the conference may help through prayer and contributions and the UMV has an IGRC Advance Special Number (#0047) and one of 10 agencies that are recipients of the annual Golden Cross Sunday offering. The relationship of the conference to UMW is not one of ownership, operation or control.
The UMV Board is not elected by the annual conference session but those members are reported to the session annually. All board members are elected to a maximum of two three-year terms.