Battle between Menahga city, nursing home needs to stop
The untenable political struggle between Menahga and its nursing home needs to come to an end.
The unseemly battle between a deeply divided city council and nursing home administration has resulted in the concentration of power and wealth to one family. Outside intervention is not welcomed by the facility nor sought out by a minority of city leaders seeking to change business as usual.
While Greenwood Connections has been generally financially sound, the loss of revenues for January is not good for the city and taxpayers.
The nursing home administrator's brother is the facility's medical director; his sister-in-law's physical therapy business has the sole contract for lucrative services provided to nursing home patients.
How lucrative those services are can only be speculated upon, because city officials don't seem willing or able to explain recent nursing home financial statements included in January's council packet.
The administrator's relatives dispute that they were paid more than $100,000 during the fourth quarter of 2009 for physical therapy services; city officials say they were.
Small towns hate out-of-town newspapers telling them how to conduct their business, but the arrangements and cozy deals at Greenwood don't pass the smell test to outsiders.
While Menahga's city attorney didn't find the therapy contract was an outright conflict of interest, the appearance of impropriety is certainly present.
For the money Menahga pays Park Rapids Physical Therapy, it might be money ahead if it simply hired a physical therapist to work on site.
And the fact that city officials cannot explain the nursing home's quarterly statements is troubling on many levels. It may be this hands-off approach that has caused the situation to spiral out of control, to the point that the nursing home now functions as its own fiefdom.
The administrator believes because he has worked hard to run the facility for three decades, he is impervious to city oversight.
City officials, in the tug of war that has become a daily battle, now want to scrutinize contracts and other business deals, along with the management of the facility. Part of the rationale is that the nursing home just cost the city's insurer $55,000 in an employee dispute over medical leave.
The city justifiably doesn't want to see itself in court again.
As the relations between the administrator, his family and the city continue to deteriorate, the medical director now wants payment for services he formerly rendered free of charge for more than two decades.
But in earning that salary, the doctor said he would recruit patients for Greenwood and its physical therapy services.
That essentially means the city will be paying him to further enrich his own wife's business.
The family's hard work and dedication to the facility should be commended. But the philosophy that what's good for the goose is good for the gander should not be.