More and more New Jersey nursing homes are converting from state-owned to privately run facilities. There are only 16 state run nursing homes left in New Jersey following the sale of four to private companies within the last 18 months. Experts estimate that the remaining homes will be sold within the next five years.
The trend towards privatizing nursing homes is not limited to New Jersey and has become a national trend. Many worry that the traditional state-owned safety net facilities will no longer be available to seniors who need care. With the growing concern for patient safety and nursing home neglect, privatization worries many who like the watchful eye and accountability of a government run facility.
Private companies only need to reserve 45 percent of their space for Medicaid patients, which limit the availability for seniors who cannot afford to pay full price for care. On the other hand, many county homes are being forced to sell because of low Medicaid payment rates and an inability to attract higher paying residents.
"We're a safety net," said the chief operating officer of a center in Camden, New Jersey. "The private homes have waiting lists. We take those who can't get in there."
One New Jersey family told reporters that the state run facilities were wonderful options compared to higher priced privately owned homes. Less expensive private homes were not fully staffed or seemed to be unclean, whereas the affordable state option has been a good fit.
However, the news isn't all bad. One of the reasons that state run nursing homes are in the decline is because of the rise of alternative forms of long term care, such as in-home care or less healthcare intensive assisted living facilities.
Source: Philadelphia Inquirer, "In N.J., the county nursing home is an endangered species," James Osborne, June 6, 2012.