With differing viewpoints on the future of the Home Care arm of the Clarkfield Care Center, the relationship between the City Council and Ecumen is becoming strained.

With differing viewpoints on the future of the Home Care arm of the Clarkfield Care Center, the relationship between the City Council and Ecumen is becoming strained.
“At this point, the employees and the Council have mixed feelings about Ecumen and their ability to manage the Clarkfield Care Center,” Clarkfield City Administrator Scott Weske said. “There is growing concern that they aren’t looking out for the best interest of the Care Center and the community.”
Part of this stemmed from Ecumen’s recommendation to close down the Home Care program in lieu of a letter received by the Minnesota State Department of Health, although Weske pointed out that Ecumen’s quality of service has “gone down” in the last five years, also adding that new management was not out of the question.
“Ecumen recommended to the City to discharge residents to another local home care agency while we address problems that we identified in our analysis and problems that the State identified,” Ecumen Regional Director of Operations Carol Kvidt said.
Dissatisfied with Ecumen’s recommendation, the City of Clarkfield sought out a second opinion from  Pathways, a health firm from White Bear Lake. The goal is for Pathways is to assess which option is better: discharging the Home Care residents or work to get everything right by the timeline given by the Minnesota State Department of Health.
For the 17 current users of the Home Care system out of the Care Center, this spells uncertainty, but not a lack of care.
“If it gets to the point where the timeline is too short, we may have to discharge the residents to another service,” Weske said. “This doesn’t mean they have to move – [they] just would have another service providing RNs and care.”
Acknowledging that the City of Clarkfield was moving in another direction, Kvidt said that Ecumen would still work with the City and Pathways to ensure a “high-quality” home health care service for Clarkfield.
“Ecumen's focus is on ensuring that residents in the home care program receive the best possible care,” Kvidt said.
During the Tuesday night Clarkfield City Council meeting, questions were turned to Care Center Director Chuck Ness about Ecumen’s role in Clarkfield.
“When we made the agreement with Ecumen to manage the facility, we made an agreement that the Care Center would be in good hands,” Council member Dave Biermaier said. “If your energies are taken elsewhere, Ecumen needs to be sending people out here to do the managing we agreed they would do.”
Ness responded that Ecumen doesn’t want to add more resources to a program that they recommended be put in someone else’s hands, especially considering the cost of the program.
“We hadn’t been getting money from Medicare for three years plus, and we should have,” Ness said. “Pathways estimated $60,000 or so in losses a year just from that paperwork just sitting on a desk.”
Biermaier claimed that Ecumen had forced the council into including Home Care in the  Ecumen contract, while the council had been hesitant to do so, mentioning that they are still “willing to take the [Home Care] money.”
Differences aside, the plan of correction needs to be approved by the Minnesota State Department of Health before the City Council can move forward with their hopes of revitalizing the program. Ness offered his continued support to the jobs on the line that would be affected by a change in Home Care.
“If the City wants to go down that path, I want to help,” Ness said. “I think Home Care is a priority in Clarkfield.”