Saturday, June 6, 2020

TMH proposes use for county's excess nursing home beds

When the Monroe County Rolling Hills Committee meets Monday, April 15, it will consider a proposal from Tomah Memorial Hospital (TMH) to transfer 25 nursing home beds to its present facility.

The county currently has 80 licensed skilled nursing home beds. With the new proposed facility requiring only 50 of those beds, 30 will remain unused with the state likely to decommission them.

County Administrator Jim Bialecki said he and Finance Director Tina Osterberg, met with Phil Stuart, TMH administrator, who has expressed interest in moving those beds into the current hospital when it is vacated.

The hospital, located on Butts Avenue, will be vacated  when its new facility on Gopher Avenue, Tomah Health, is completed in October. Bialecki said Stuart's concern is a possible future shortage of nursing home beds in Tomah.

There are 25 rooms available on the second floor of the current Tomah hospital. Bialecki said he toured the facility and the rooms would not have to be modified much, if at all, to accommodate nursing home beds.

"They are all built to code for long-term care," he said.

He added for that to happen, the county would have to be well on its way to completing its new senior care facility.

"But once that building is open, you've got 30 beds remaining," said Bialecki. "Rather than give those back to the state it would make sense to utilize them in that facility."

Bialecki said Stuart envisions the current Tomah hospital as an incubator for other uses that are compatible with a nursing home, such as children’s and school programs.

Also on Monday's Rolling Hills Committee meeting agenda is a discussion of the building project and the referendum results. So far the building project hangs in limbo with an unsettled lawsuit against nine sitting supervisors accused of open meetings violations tied up in court for at least the next few months.

Until that lawsuit is settled, the county is unable to bond for a project. The site for the new project is currently in Tomah, but the lawsuit is seeking to void the resolution that moved it from its original Sparta location. Also, the Tomah site now requires modifications to build on and it's unknown how much that will add to the cost of developing the site and if it will shrink the scope of the project.

County voters overwhelmingly approved a non-binding referendum on April 2 to build a new senior care facility for $20 million but there was no question the site.

The committee meets at 4 p.m. Monday in the Justice Center Assembly Hall. The public entrance is located off the West Oak Street parking lot.

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