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Top 10: SV Health and Rehab Center struggles to keep doors open

Spring Valley Health and Rehabilitation Center is one of many facilities in Wisconsin struggling to continue serving their community. RiverTown Multimedia file photo

Editor's note: This story is part of a series recapping the top stories of 2017. Read the other top stories here

The past years have seen the closure of many nursing home and healthcare centers throughout the state of Wisconsin. Unfortunately difficulty finding certified nursing assistants and receiving Medicaid dollars have led many facilities to either close or struggle to keep their doors open.

Kevin Larson, administrator at Spring Valley Health and Rehab Center, said they have been struggling over the last year to continue to operate and provide quality care to their residents. But despite these troubles, Larson said they have strived to continue providing excellent care and the 4-star rating by US News they received for their facility reflects this effort.

"That's a great score," Larson said. "We need to make sure people know we have really strong marks when you compare us to other facilities. We're providing good care. Yes, we're flying through some air turbulence, everyone is, but we're still flying a damn good plane: we have a great product."

Despite the US News rating that has SVHRC a half-star higher than the Wisconsin average, the facility is still struggling. Larson said that despite their best efforts there are still challenges they face on a daily basis.

Having enough CNAs is vital for the facility to function and provide appropriate care for residents.

"We need to get more caregivers in the door," Larson said. "We need to get more caregivers. It's kind of that chicken or the egg thing and the yin and yang thing: we need more residents because we have room for them, but we need more caregivers to take care of them."

One effort that is currently being worked on is Assembly Bill 432 which would lower the amount of training hours required for CNAs. The bill, which passed the Wisconsin State Assembly on Nov. 2, would lower the required training hours from 120 to 75 hours, the current federal requirement. The bill was sent to the Wisconsin State Senate who referred it to the committee on Health and Human Services on Nov. 6.

Part of the problem, Larson said, with getting CNAs to come and work at their facility is the lack of Medicaid money to help pay them a higher, competitive wage. Larson said Wisconsin Medicaid has not seen an increase in funding since 2008 so he is hopeful that the 2 percent increase in Medicaid reimbursement that Gov. Scott Walker approved in the 2017-19 budget in October may help with some of the problems.

Larson hopes with increased Medicaid funding and having a great facility they will be able to continue to provide care in the Spring Valley area.

"This is getting to a point where we might be month to month. We aren't there yet, but any drastic changes could move us in that direction," Larson said. "We hope we're not next, but it could happen to anyone; I've been saying all along, it could happen anywhere to anyone."