Shep Englander — Federation Journal
Cedar Village ‘Can’t Stand Still’: Q&A with CEO Dan Fagin
This Q&A series features my conversations with community leaders and tackles high priority and high interest issues in Jewish Cincinnati with candor and purpose.
The public wants to know—
Has Cedar Village been sold?
Will the current Cedar Village residents be evicted?
Why is Cedar Village considering a different strategic model?
This month I sat down with Dan Fagin, Cedar Village CEO, to discuss the future of Cedar Village and to address some of the myths floating around the community.
There’s been a lot of conversation out there about what’s going on at Cedar Village, and people are concerned. Why is Cedar Village thinking about looking at a different model for the future? What drove the board to even start asking those questions?
The industry at large, healthcare as we know it in this country, is changing, and in particular for organizations like Cedar Village that operate skilled nursing facilities and assisted and independent living communities, our world is changing. People utilize healthcare differently in this country today. They utilize the services of a skilled nursing home differently. And people really are choosing to remain in their homes as long as possible and only turn to institutional settings like Cedar Village when they can no longer take care of themselves at home. So our efforts really are a response to what’s happening in the industry at large, and we feel a responsibility to look at different models that would enable us maybe to even broaden the number of people that we reach in our community, to deepen the type of services, but really, the industry is changing, and we can’t stand still. We have to change as well.
Part of it is you want to know where the industry is going, you want to serve people the way they want to be served, you want to see if you can serve more people. What about the business of Cedar Village? How has that been affected by the many changes in the turbulent healthcare marketplace?
For most of our 20 years history in Mason, the financial model of the way organizations like Cedar Village are reimbursed for the care that they provide has enabled us to operate the business and generate enough revenue from our operations to cover our costs. But the way organizations today are reimbursed—we’re getting less for what we do, people that come to organizations like Cedar Village tend to be a sicker and maybe a little bit older when they come, so the cost of caring for them is rising, along with the salaries and wages of people that provide that care. So the model is just different. It just doesn’t work anymore, so we’re really looking at how reimbursement reform has impacted us and looking at the necessary changes we need to make in the model to be able to be sustainable over the long run.
I’ve heard people say they’ve heard the decision has already been made to sell the campus in Mason, and that Cedar Village is moving, and it’s a done deal. Is that true?
I can’t say any more explicitly that is not true. There has been no decision made to sell Cedar Village. We are looking at a number of different options. I think where maybe some of the confusion has come from is that our board did make the decision to engage a broker to help us go out and explore what the value of Cedar Village might be to potential buyers. It’s really an important piece of data that as we evaluate different options for Cedar Village, and how our community will care for seniors in the future, knowing what the asset we have is worth, is an important data point that helps us figure out what options might be possible for us in the future, but we have not made any decision to sell Cedar Village.
If the Cedar Village board did decide to sell the campus in the future, would that mean that the Cedar Village residents who are there now would be evicted? That’s another concern I’ve heard out on the street.
Absolutely not. Our board would not take any action that would allow our existing residents to be kicked to the curb. In fact, that’s our number one priority, making sure that the people who rely on us today will continue to get the services that they need, in the way that they’ve been getting them with the same quality, the same compassion they’ve received it while we’ve owned Cedar Village. If we made that decision to sell it, we will ensure that they continue to receive quality care.
If the board did decide to sell, what would be the benefits, the ways they would hope to serve the community differently or better, that would convince them to give up that facility or that location?
We’re exploring different models today, but one of the things that we think is a real possibility, is that if we’re no longer encumbered by being the owner and operator of a big, physical facility, that it might provide us the resources and the means to go out and both broaden and deepen the types of services we offer in the community and reach far more people in the venues that they want to receive care. People today are choosing to age in place. They want to stay at home as long as possible. So we want to be in a position to reach as many people as we can in the way they want to receive services.
So if that decision were made, what would happen with Cedar Village’s mission?
Our mission would remain largely unchanged. We will still be here to provide services for seniors, to support their families, their children as they age, and we will remain committed to the values that we hold dear today. So I don’t think anything will change dramatically for our mission, it may just be that we pursue the delivery of that mission in a different way.
If people want to stay up-to-date on what’s happening with Cedar Village, or they have questions, who should they turn to? Where should they look? What should they read?
We know there are a lot of questions, so we’ve set up a web page. If people go to www.cedarvillage.org/strategicplan we are providing frequent updates on the status of our strategic planning process. I’m certainly accessible to people, so they’re more than welcome to reach out to me directly by calling and asking for me or sending me an email. My primary focus right now is to be accessible to people, and answer questions as best as we have answers today.
You said one of the goals would be to see whether Cedar Village can serve more seniors, serve them better, and serve them differently. How about the relationship between Cedar Village and the other agencies in Cincinnati who also serve older adults in the Jewish community, like Jewish Family Service and the Mayerson JCC? What’s the thought about those relationships and how that might impact care?
We’re just one of a big set of resources whose focus in our community is meeting the needs of seniors. So we are part of a collaboration with the Mayerson JCC, with Jewish Family Service, with JVS Career Services, and trying to serve the needs of seniors. I think a great example, we’ve been working as part of a collaboration over the last couple of years on a project that will soon be announced called AgeWell Cincinnati which represents all of our community’s agencies coming together to provide services for seniors. AgeWell Cincinnati will be a mechanism that isn’t just a Cedar Village thing, but really demonstrates how we can work together as a community to serve more people in more ways than we can today as individual institutions.
It sounds like you and the Cedar Village board are thinking through a lot of complex issues in a complicated time for senior services, and you really have your arms around business issues, care issues, collaboration issues, and I know that I’m not alone in thanking you for trying to get your arms around this, for working with your board, and your leadership, to make sure that we’re prepared for the future, and that we’ve thought ahead about all these issues. Thanks for your leadership.