Friday, December 21, 2012

Commissioners to take virtual tour

County leaders will see senior-care facility in Kansas

Express Staff Writer

Blaine County commissioners have scheduled a virtual tour of a tiered senior-care facility in Olathe, Kan., to get an idea of what the Croy Canyon Ranch facility west of Hailey might look like if developed.

The Croy Canyon Ranch Foundation set up the tour, which will take place on Jan. 2, in response to the commissioners’ decision not to make a site visit to facilities in Billings, Mont., or Seattle that are managed by the same company that would manage Croy Canyon Ranch.

Commissioner Angenie McCleary said during a meeting earlier this month that she thought a visit to a site run by Greystone Communities, a Texas-based senior care management firm, would be valuable. However, she said she wasn’t sure she could justify either a county-funded trip out of state or accept the foundation’s offer of a private plane to take the commissioners to a site.

Commissioners Jacob Greenberg and Larry Schoen said a county-funded trip would not be seen as a good use of taxpayer funds. Greenberg suggested a virtual visit, conducted through video-chat software such as Skype or FaceTime, as a compromise.

McCleary said the board will virtually tour The Plaza Health Services at Santa Marta in Olathe, Kan. The facility is a tiered-care facility with an independent senior community, assisted living and skilled nursing on a unified campus. It accepts Medicare, though not Medicaid, and received an overall rating of four out of five stars from U.S. News and World Report.

The facility is larger than the proposed Croy Canyon Ranch, with more than 150 independent-living units, 48 assisted-living units and 32 skilled-nursing beds. Croy Canyon is proposing 25 independent units, 30 assisted living units and 25 nursing beds.

“I asked for a facility that would be most similar to this [proposed] facility,” McCleary said.

McCleary said there would be an administrator available to answer questions from the commissioners as the board was “shown” around the facility. 

Commissioners would also be able to see the interactions between staff and patients, but McCleary said a virtual visit would be a compromise rather than a complete substitute for a real site visit.

“I think things will be lost, but I think we’ll still get a sense of the facility,” she said. “I tried to use multiple bathrooms when I went, so I could check out the bathrooms. You can’t stop and talk to patients. I tried to stop and talk to patients with a virtual tour and even if you could [in a virtual tour], it’s kind of intimidating.”

The tour has been planned for Jan. 7. McCleary said the tour would be open to the public and conducted at the county courthouse in Hailey. 

The Croy Canyon Ranch Foundation is expected to give a presentation to the commissioners regarding changes to its proposal on Monday, Jan. 7. The commissioners are scheduled to begin evaluating the three proposals for senior care in the county on Jan. 8.

Kate Wutz:

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