Nursing home second thoughts
COVID-19 may depress market for Mount View nursing home beds
The COVID-19 pandemic may change how Marathon County rebuilds its nursing home in Wausau, Michael Loy, executive director of North Central Health Care (NCHC), told the Health and Human Services Committee last week Wednesday.
Loy said the county, based on a 2017 plan by consulting firm Clifton, Larsen and Allen, Milwaukee, has plans to renovate and downsize its Mount View Care Center from 220 to 176 beds, but, given the COVID-19 pandemic, may want to downsize the project further to only 136 beds. At issue, said Loy, is whether to move forward with between $500,000 and $1 million in construction for those extra 40 beds in the current second story of the current nursing home. This part of the project is part of an overall conceptual design, but has not, as yet, been engineered.
Currently, NCHC is undergoing a major $70 million reconstruction project.
Loy said the county was currently building a 96-bed nursing home tower. The NCHC official said he has no worries that the county will be able to fill those beds in the future.
He said, however, people are more reticent to opt to stay in nursing homes due to the COVID-19 pandemic and, given this new shift in market preference, it may be wise not to fully build out the 176 bed project.
Loy said county board members should also think about staff availability when deciding whether to build the full 176 bed project. He said Mount View Nursing Home has had problems locating needed staff for years. The COVID- 19 pandemic has made hiring staff even more challenging.
On the other hand, Loy told supervisors, the regulatory burden and staffing challenges of COVID-19 may cause several private nursing homes to go out of business in Marathon County.
Should that happen, Loy said, the county, as a nursing home of last resort, might see more patients at Mount View Nursing Home.
The NCHC official said supervisors have until April 2021 to decide how to proceed with the nursing home project.