Marianne Wiesen to take over Knox County Nursing Home


By Norm Winick

In advance of November’s Knox County Board meeting, there were County Board members as well as the publisher of the Galesburg Register-Mail pressuring others not to confirm the decision of the Social Services (Nursing Home) committee and reject the appointment of Marianne Wiesen as the new Administrator of the Nursing Home. This was despite the glowing résumé and recommendations Wiesen brought to the job and the obvious pleasure expressed by committee members at finding someone so qualified and competent.

While publicly proclaiming that the newly elected Board members, all three of them, should play a role in the decision after they were inducted in December, the anti-Wiesen movement was most likely a not-well-disguised attempt to discredit outgoing Board members William Abel and Sally Keener.

Keener and the Social Services committee outwitted them. Wiesen came in from her Kansas City area home to be present at the meeting and she met all the members, including the newly-elected ones. They were even invited into the executive session for interviewing Wiesen by the full board – old and new. She charmed them.

When the Board convened in public session, the vote to approve Wiesen was unanimous.

After talking to her last night, it’s clear that she brings some new insight and perspectives to the job while recognizing the pitfalls. "I spent some time at the Knox County Nursing Home and I was very impressed. They are very well into the Pioneer Project and that’s the proper direction for nursing homes. Residents should be able to go to sleep and get up when they want; they should be able to eat when they want. They should be as independent as they are able. I see that there."

"I see pride in the residents and employees. The food looked wonderful. They are doing a lot of things right. They are 90 percent there but that doesn’t mean there aren’t things that need improvement."

"I want to do some sprucing up of the facility – give it a little more life, maybe some more art."

"We also need to look more carefully at a per patient-day cost structure. The staff has to know what their budget is on a per patient-day basis and act accordingly. If the census is under budget, buy your food based on the census. If the per-patient day cost is above income and the budget like it is now, there is a problem. We also have to recognize that the State of Illinois is going to be perpetually late with their payments and we have to work with that. I’ve been poring over the books and I don’t see any insurmountable problems."

"Nursing is the highest priority and I would never reduce staffing to a level that compromises care. To address the budgetary problem, my number one priority is to increase the census. I am an open-door out-in-the-community type of person and I think that, along with excellent care, will help us attract residents in a competitive marketplace. The growth in assisted living facilities and home care, all good goals, have made our job harder but we can be financially solid and I intend to make it so."