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What's behind the Gracedale transformation?

By Catherine Hawley, Reporter, news@wfmz.com
Published On: Oct 04 2012 07:00:00 PM CDT
Updated On: Oct 05 2012 05:34:30 PM CDT

After deciding to keep its doors open less than a year ago, the Northampton County-owned Gracedale nursing home has made major strides to improve the facility and save taxpayer's dollars.

UPPER NAZARETH TWP., Pa. -

After deciding to keep its doors open less than a year ago, the Northampton County-owned Gracedale nursing home has made major strides to improve the facility and save taxpayer's dollars.

WFMZ got a behind-the-scenes tour Friday.

Eight months ago, Northampton County leaders wanted to sell Gracedale.  The 725-bed facility was draining millions of dollars from the county budget.

"It's an older building," said Jennifer Stewart-King, with Gracedale. "It's been around for a while so there were a lot of updates that needed to be done so it was costly."

A voter referendum prevented any sale and the county turned to Premier Healthcare Resources to take over day-to-day running of the nursing home.

The county credits Premier for making changes and improvements that are saving taxpayers money.

"We're trying to strive and make things better so that maybe we can come to a point where we don't have to borrow anything from the county and we become self sustained," explained Stewart-King.

For the last six months, the facility has been under construction. Floor by floor they're making changes to become more energy efficient and save money.  They changed their heating source from oil to natural gas, upgraded lighting, and weatherized the doors.

"We're changing all the air handlers in the system so that it becomes more efficient to heat this place, "said Stewart-King.  "Get better air systems and really that alone should save us some money."

Those savings could be to the tune of more than $1 million.

Gracedale also just opened a short term rehabilitation unit for county residents to heal from all kinds of medical issues.

"If I can keep it filled, it's going to save the taxpayers' money," said Stewart King, who estimated the new center could bring in an additional $1 million in revenue each year.