Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Bowman will miss senior-care decision

Timing is ‘not ideal,’ says county administrator


By KATHERINE WUTZ
Express Staff Writer

County Commissioner Tom Bowman will not be able to finish the process of choosing a new skilled-nursing facility for Blaine County, due to the proposal submission timeline and his impending resignation.

The Board of County Commissioners announced on Tuesday that they would be releasing a request for proposals for a new skilled-nursing facility in Blaine County this week. 

However, the amount of time the commissioners said would be required to evaluate the proposals and for the submitters to develop good proposals would place the final decision after the date of Bowman’s official resignation.

“This is a very significant decision with very long-term consequences,” said Commissioner Larry Schoen. “We want the board to have time to make phone calls and do their own due diligence.”

The process for choosing a successful proposal will involve six weeks for submitters—likely a handful of companies within Idaho who responded to an earlier request for information from the county—to develop a proposal for how they would run a skilled-nursing or tiered-care facility within Blaine County. 

The proposals would then be evaluated on their ability to meet a set of 10 criteria, including the facility’s plans for long-term stability, the extent to which the facility would rely on county support and how adequately the facility would be able to safely care for seniors of all levels of care and socio-economic levels.

County Administrator Derek Voss said on Tuesday that it would have been possible for Bowman to officially weigh in on the process, but only with an aggressive timeline. Submitters would have had to have proposals to the county by Sept. 26, and commissioners would have had a week to evaluate the proposals, conduct a risk analysis on each of the top selections, and make a decision as to their preferred proposal.

The problem, Voss said, is that Bowman has an extensive background in this issue, whereas the new commissioner may not.

“Many people have followed this [issue] in person or through the media, but they might not have the extensive background,” Voss said. “The timing is not ideal.”

Schoen suggested that Bowman could push back his resignation, but Bowman said he would rather either make the decision before Oct. 4—his last working day in office—or leave the choice to the new commissioner.

Given those choices, Schoen and Commissioner Angenie McCleary agreed that giving both the board and the companies submitting proposals ample time to gather information would be best. Anita McCann, campaign chair for the Croy Canyon Ranch Foundation—which plans on submitting a proposal—said she agrees with that decision.

“This cannot be done in a hurried fashion,” she said. “To push it through that quickly could be a disaster long-term, and we are talking about a long-term proposal that is best for this valley. That’s going to take some time.”

McCleary suggested that Bowman could fill out an evaluation form for the proposals and submit them as public record. That would give the board an idea of his feelings on the matter, while also allowing for ample time for decision-making, she said.

Voss said that the request for proposals would likely be sent out this week or next, due back in mid-October with a final evaluation due from the commissioners in mid-November.


Kate Wutz: kwutz@mtexpress.com




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