SAN MATEO, Calif. – San Mateo County Board of Supervisors (BOS) decided today in a unanimous vote that the County will not renew the lease for Burlingame Long Term Care (BLTC) when it expires in June 2013.
The Board’s decision follows the Health System’s recommendation to exit BLTC based on a 23% reduction in the rate paid by the State to the Health System for care at BLTC. Instead, the Health System will open 32 additional skilled nursing beds at San Mateo Medical Center, a newer, County-owned facility.
The County assumed operation of BLTC in 2003 at the request of the State Department of Health Services. San Mateo County has been only one of a few California counties to operate a large skilled nursing facility.
The Health System asked for an early decision by the Board of Supervisors to ensure that there is sufficient time to find the 230 BLTC residents new placements before the lease expires in 2013. A transition team, led by the County’s Aging & Adult Services Director, will assess each resident’s medical, social, and financial situation to determine what type of placement is appropriate. The County will also hire a placement firm to assist with matching residents and placements.
Most residents likely will move to another skilled nursing facility, but some residents will be able to move to board and care facilities. Others may be able to move back home or in with family members with additional medical and social supports.
As the Burlingame transition plan is implemented, the State is moving forward with piloting long-term care integration. This program would allow flexibility in using some of the large sums of money currently spent on institutional nursing care to provide individualized supports and services so that seniors and people with disabilities can remain safely at home.
“We need to rethink and re-imagine a system to care for our seniors and residents with disabilities that does not confine them to institutions and does not bankrupt them, their children, or our healthcare system,” said Health System Chief Jean Fraser at the hearing. “The goal of the long-term care integration pilot is to allow people to remain at home as long as possible and to use costly and impersonal institutions only as a last resort.”
While the State has pushed back the implementation date of long-term care integration to January 2013, in the interim they have given tentative approval to allow the Health System and the Health Plan of San Mateo to use some Medi-Cal funds more flexibly. These funds will provide more options for placing BLTC residents and more tools to help other seniors and people with disabilities safely remain in the community. This would reduce the need for institutional nursing care in the future.
“What most people want for the end of their life is to be able to stay at home or be cared for by their family. No one wants to go into an institution,” said Fraser. “While we know that this decision is heart-wrenching, we also know that it is necessary to move to a better, more humane system to support our seniors and residents with disabilities to live safely at home.”