Friday, February 15, 2013

Safe Haven was the safe choice

Larry Schoen


I offer a couple of comments and a point of clarification in response to the Idaho Mountain Express’ coverage of the county’s skilled nursing care decision made Tuesday. Safe Haven will offer quality, ethical, safe and compassionate care at its Bell Mountain facility in Bellevue, once it opens in 2014. The public can and should have every confidence in Safe Haven. Safe Haven is the board’s choice to take on skilled nursing in our community, for a number of reasons, including the level of care, the living atmosphere and environment that it will provide.

Safe Haven already provides this kind of care at its assisted living facility on Seventh Avenue in Bellevue and at its other facilities across the state. The company is one of the leading skilled nursing caregivers in Idaho. In this sense, I view Safe Haven as less of a risk in terms of abandoning skilled nursing, given the changing economics of paying for medical care in the United States, than any other service provider. All of the other service provider options considered by the board would face the same challenges, now or in the future.

To clarify, our decision has nothing to do with fears of selling the Blaine Manor property below market value, and I am not sure where that idea comes from. Idaho law is clear how counties may dispose of property and it does not include selling it for below market value. That could occur only under certain circumstances—for example, by agreement in exchange for the provision of valuable services in return.

This debate was characterized as cost versus quality of care. Wrong. It is about accessibility to quality care and fiduciary responsibility and accountability. When Blaine County took on skilled nursing after St. Luke’s chose not to offer those services more than a dozen years ago, citizens were promised it would be only temporarily. On Tuesday, the Board of Commissioners fulfilled that promise. The needs of our seniors, their families and others using skilled nursing services and our whole community will be well met by this decision.

Lawrence Schoen is the chairman of the Blaine County Board of County Commissioners.


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