January 20, 2011
******FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE******
CHEYENNE, Wyo. – Governor Matt Mead has been meeting with a wide group of people to determine options to help support residents of the financially troubled Shepherd of the Valley Care Center in Casper.
Shepherd of the Valley, a nonprofit long-term care facility, is home to approximately 150 individuals, many of whom are medically vulnerable with low incomes.
Management from Shepherd of the Valley contacted state officials this week saying that the Care Center has serious financial problems.
This matter is of particular concern to the Governor, Legislators and the Director of the Wyoming Department of Health because there is such limited space available at long-term care facilities in Natrona County and elsewhere in the state. “It is vital for the safety and health of the patients that they remain in this facility,” Governor Mead says. “Through the collaboration of people at all levels we do feel like we have a solution.”
“The health and safety of residents are a responsibility and a concern,” Representative Tom Lockhart from Casper says. “When contacted the Natrona County Legislators set out immediately to help solve this problem.”
Finding a sensible solution was accomplished by the quick response of Legislators and the Governor who have been in discussions with the Wyoming Department of Health, city and county government officials, members of the Casper health community and private citizens.
“We have worked together to keep to an absolute minimum the amount of state money that is spent in keeping this facility open,” Mead says. “I also will not go down any road without knowing there is an exit strategy. In addition, it is important to determine what caused this situation.”
The Natrona County delegation is drafting a bill that would help move the facility through the financial problems. Senator Charlie Scott from Natrona County says that it is possible that this will not require a huge commitment. “The center provides excellent care from what I have seen,” Senator Scott says. “It also will not take much for this facility to break even. That said we need to work to ensure we have a mechanism in place to react if this ever happens again.”
“We are confident this plan will ensure all employees of the Care Center will keep their jobs and continue to provide quality care for the people at Shepherd of the Valley,” Senator Kit Jennings from Casper says.
Governor Mead said central to this plan is that there is community buy-in. The proposal asks for representatives of the local governments and local health care community to help the Shepherd of the Valley Care Center move toward a financially secure status while continuing to provide a healthy home for its residents.
“We are very appreciative of the Governor providing a leadership role in such a critical situation,” Casper Mayor Paul Bertoglio says. “The community is stepping forward again I’m very grateful. The city will provide help to facilitate the community response to find a long-term workable solution.”
The CEO of the Wyoming Medical Center Vickie Diamond also expressed her support for this effort. “As partners in the health of our community, Wyoming Medical Center is aware of the value an organization like Shepherd of the Valley Care Center provides for the safety and well being of the residents they serve,” Diamond says. “We are supportive of the efforts, at both the community and state level, to ensure ongoing operations and care for those that rely on long-term care in our community."
Rick Bonander, a Natrona County businessman and the Chair of the Board of Directors for Shepherd of the Valley, says they are willing to work with all community members and the state on this front. “We have always provided a home for people who are in great need and that has meant it is not easy to make ends meet, but we feel like with some short-term help we will pull through this and we deeply appreciate this response.”
Wyoming’s Medicaid program pays for the care of about two-thirds of the residents of the Care Center.
Renny MacKay - Communications Director
Cell: (307) 274-5870