Wednesday, October 31, 2012

County releases skilled-nursing proposals

Of 3, only one doesn’t need public funding

Express Staff Writer

The Blaine Manor nursing facility in Hailey has been at the center of Blaine County’s discussions on how best to care for the county’s senior citizens in the future. Express file photo

Blaine County commissioners had their first discussion on Monday about three possible proposals for skilled nursing care facilities in Blaine County, and said they would begin deliberations next week.
    The county received three responses to a request for proposals last month: one from Pocatello-based TanaBell Health Services, which proposed partnering with Blaine Manor to provide skilled nursing and assisted living; one from Pocatello-based Safe Haven Health Care, which is already planning to build a skilled nursing and assisted living facility in Bellevue; and one from the Croy Canyon Ranch Foundation, which has partnered with Texas-based Greystone Management to propose a three-tiered senior care facility west of Hailey.
    The meeting was the first that new Commissioner Jacob Greenberg attended as a commissioner, having been sworn in earlier that morning. As a result, most of the meeting was a refresher course for all the commissioners on where the county was in the skilled nursing process.
    County Administrator Derek Voss started the meeting by saying that while all the proposals had merit, the county should concentrate on finding the “best possible” solution.
    “We’re not looking for the perfect solution, because we do not believe there is one,” Voss said.
    Voss pointed out that only Safe Haven’s facility would not require financing from the county, though Safe Haven does ask the county if it would contemplate transferring or selling Blaine Manor’s nursing home license to the facility.
    The Blaine Manor/TanaBell proposal includes a $6 million two-year levy to defray startup and remodel costs. TanaBell would also take a 5 percent cut of gross revenues as manager of the facility, and would lease the existing facility with an option to buy after five years.

“We’re not looking for the perfect solution, because we do not believe there is one.”
Derek Voss
Blaine County administrator

    The Croy Canyon Ranch Foundation proposal assumes that Blaine County will issue a $29.2 million 35-year general obligation bond to cover project costs (construction and furnishings). The foundation will raise $9.85 million to fund design, entitlement and permitting fees, pre-opening expenses, Blaine Manor transition costs and an operating reserve.
    Commissioner Larry Schoen said during the meeting that he had questions for each of the agencies, which he hoped they would address in presentations before the board next week.
    One of the major concerns, he said, was whether the county can even legally issue a bond for a skilled nursing facility that also includes assisted and independent living. He said the board can only issue a bond for a hospital.
    “This is a serious concern of mine, and has been for some time,” he said.
    Schoen also said he was concerned that management of Croy Canyon Ranch by Greystone, a for-profit corporation, could jeopardize the ranch’s nonprofit status.
    Greenberg also said he had concerns, but mostly for Safe Haven. Blaine Manor currently has 25 skilled nursing beds, 16 of which are occupied, and he said he was startled by Safe Haven’s proposal calling for 48 skilled nursing beds in addition to 32 assisted living units.
    “My initial reaction was, ‘That sounds great, but it’s a lot of beds,’” he said. “My concern is how you fill those beds.”
    Scott Burpee, CEO of Safe Haven, said he operates several facilities of similar capacity in markets with a similar population to that of Blaine County, and he believes he can fill the proposed facility.
    The three organizations will give presentations during a public meeting Tuesday, Nov. 6, before the commissioners begin an evaluation of the risks involved in each proposal.

Kate Wutz:

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