Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Senior care providers present plans

County support needed ranges from $29.5 million bond to license transfer

Express Staff Writer

This rendering shows one of the early concepts for the planned Croy Canyon Ranch senior-care facility west of Hailey.
Courtesy graphic

    Blaine County commissioners gave no hint of a preferred alternative for senior care in Blaine County during a three-hour marathon of presentations from three different senior care organizations on Tuesday.
    TanaBell Health Services, Croy Canyon Ranch Foundation and Safe Haven Health Care all gave 45-minute presentations regarding the type of facilities that they would like to build—or rebuild—and what kind of county financing they would need, as well as the services that would be offered.
    Troy Bell, owner of TanaBell Health Services, said that his group has partnered with Blaine Manor and the Blaine Manor board to put together a proposal that would lower costs, raise revenue and retain staff at the current site.
    Bell said that it was important to the manor’s board and to his company to retain as much as they could of the old facility while giving it an upgrade and more buying power as part of the larger TanaBell corporation.
    “The reputation for care is high, they do a great job with resident care and they have for many years,” Bell said. “But with all due respect, Blaine Manor is not a very efficiently run facility.”
    Bell said that he believes the company can save Blaine Manor roughly $149,000 annually just by streamlining expenses and putting Blaine Manor employees into the TanaBell insurance pools.
    “We know that the facility is running at a loss,” he said. “We believe we can cut that in half right at the start. Will it be painful for some of the staff? Yes. Will they have to switch to benefits that are maybe not as good as what they have now? Absolutely.”
    But, Bell said, the company would likely be able to retain all employees.
    The proposal includes a request for a $6 million levy from the county, as well as the skilled nursing facility license currently being used by Blaine Manor. The money would go toward a $4.2 million remodel of the old county hospital building into a 45-bed assisted living facility, as well as a $600,000 remodel of the 25-bed skilled nursing facilities, $600,000 to cover operating losses in the first year and $550,000 for unforeseen expenses during the remodel.
    Bell said that the company would lease the facility at the cost of $10,000 per month, with an option to buy the facility at the end of 10 years. The county would be able to opt out of the lease after five years if the commissioners did not approve of TanaBell’s management, Bell said.

“We have a 50-year vision. For us to be able to ask for a bond is not ridiculous.”
Anita McCann
Croy Canyon Ranch Foundation

    However, the Croy Canyon Ranch Foundation took issue with what they said they considered a short-term solution.
    Croy Canyon Ranch Foundation board member Anita McCann said that the foundation had more of a long-term solution, despite its need for a $29.5 million general obligation bond for start-up costs, construction and operating losses at Blaine Manor until the new facility can be opened.
    “We have a 50-year vision,” McCann said, adding that the foundation was focused on very long-term stability. “For us to be able to ask for a bond is not ridiculous.”
    Foundation Executive Director Kathleen Eder said that the foundation has already invested $575,000 into pre-construction costs, including blueprints and studies. Board Member Jed Gray told the commissioners that though the bond amount sounds like a “huge debt,” it boils down to less than $100 per year on a home worth $500,000.
    “We are talking about pocket change to take care of our seniors,” he said. “And is that money that is just gone, like [what you pay for] your latte? No.”
    Croy Canyon proposed a three-tiered facility in which residents could begin in independent living, move to assisted living and eventually transition to skilled nursing if needed.

“With all due respect, Blaine Manor is not a very efficiently run facility.”
Troy Bell
TanaBell Health Services

    McCann said that this type of facility also allows couples to remain together longer, even if one needs a different level of care.
    The last presentation was given by Safe Haven Healthcare marketing consultant Katie Harris. She said that the Bell Mountain facility proposed by Safe Haven was already in process of approval by the city of Bellevue, which has annexed the 30-acre piece of land proposed to house the facility.
    The facility would have 48 skilled nursing beds and 32 assisted living beds. Harris also said that despite the fact that the facility would operate at a loss for the first year, the larger Safe Haven corporation has the ability to absorb those losses.
    The company is not looking for funding from the county, but is asking for a transfer of Blaine Manor’s skilled nursing facility license to the new Bell Mountain facility.
    Safe Haven CEO Scott Burpee said that demand is high enough that he feels confident he can fill the beds; however, he said that the facility will also be built in somewhat of a “pod” model, meaning that “pods” of 16 beds will be built as demand requires.
    Though commissioners asked questions of the care providers during the meeting, Commissioner Angenie McCleary said that the county would need to schedule time during a commissioners’ meeting later this month to fully discuss the proposals and sort out potential legal issues regarding levying and bonding funds for facilities run by entities other than the county. The next commissioners' meeting is Tuesday, Nov. 27.

Kate Wutz:

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