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St. Croix County Board approves nursing home repairs

A resolution to make necessary infrastructure improvements on the county nursing home in New Richmond passed on a split decision at the regular St. Croix County Board of Supervisors meeting Tuesday morning, Oct. 4.

The improvements were the result of a "walk-behind" audit by the federal government after state officials had gone over the institution, said administrator Pat Thompson.

There was a fair amount of urgency in acting on the resolution to spend up to $228,800 for the improvements since failure to do so within three months would result in federal government action.

Supervisor Steve Hermsen asked what would be the consequences if the board failed to pass the resolution.

Health and Human Services Dept. Director Fred Johnson said if a plan for repairs was not approved within three months, Medicare and Medicaid payments to new patients would be halted.

Hermsen said that if the only consequence is denial of new Medicare and Medicaid patients, "Why wouldn't we hold on this given the need for dollars elsewhere?"

Johnson said if a plan was not approved within six months, "it is my understanding that we would be out of Medicaid and Medicare (payments) for all patients."

Johnson said the nursing home relies on Medicare and Medicaid for 60 percent of its budget.

Supervisor Brian Hurtgen said, "This is just kicking the can father down the road. Things should have been fixed when they needed it."

Kim Dupre, a county employee, addressed the board as a concerned citizen. She said the nursing home is a "five-star" facility.

"Five star means we don't have staph infections, bedsores, patients get their medications on time, the patients' physical needs are met. Everybody deserves five-star care," she said.

Supervisor Buzz Marzolf said, "We have an obligation in conscience," to maintain the nursing home.

Supervisor Sharon Norton-Bauman said, "This year we will cut $250,000 of capital projects to make the budget. The nursing home was to get off the levy by 2012. That is not happening."

After more than an hour of discussion, Supervisor Fred Horne called the question. The resolution passed by a 12-6 margin. James Stauffer, Lorin Sather, Buck Malick, Robert Shearer, Hermsen and Norton-Bauman voted against the measure. Vice Chair Esther Wentz was absent.

In other action the board:

  • Approved a resolution authorizing the land and water conservation department to apply for a municipal land grant (passed 18-0).
  • Approved an amendment to St. Croix County code of ordinances land use development chapter 17. Zoning was approved by unanimous vote.
  • Set the next regular meeting of the board for Nov. 1 at 9 a.m.

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