Comparatively, the base salary of an employed RN is $32 to $41 per hour; the salary for an LPN is $24 to $34 per hour and the base salary for a CNA is $16 to $23 per hour.
The salary imbalance has had an impact on morale. Vaughn even had employees leave the facility, returning as expensive travelers.
“We wouldn’t be in business if we weren’t owned by the county,” Vaughn said, adding that last year the facility was short by nearly $1 million, but the loss was covered by county funds.
“It would have been worse without $1 million in federal COVID relief funds,” Vaughn said.
The combination of low Medicaid rates and limited staff makes it difficult to care for residents in need.
“Someone can be turned away because they’re too expensive…it’s hard because it’s a service we should be providing to the community,” Vaughn said. “On calls with other administrators, I can hear the stress in their voices. There is no doubt that facilities across the state are at risk of closing.
Even with its diverse model, Immanuel Lutheran Ministries in Kalispell has felt the effects of limited funding and stifling guidelines.
When emergency funding stopped for nursing homes, “they made us the lowest priority,” said Jason Cronk, CEO of the Kalispell facility. “(Nursing home funding) is not something they thought was important.”