County Officials to Consider Future of Health Care Center
Left, the Portage County Health Care Committee meets to discuss the potential future of the health care center on Whiting Avenue. (City-Times photo)
By Brandi Makuski
County leaders say they’re neck- deep in information relating to the future of the Portage County Health Care Center, and discussing the available options is going to take some time.
County officials have been regularly making repairs to the 100- bed assisted living facility, which is currently home to 83 elderly residents. A recent facilities study by the Appleton- based Schenck Health Solutions determined the center would lose money if the county didn’t make any changes to the building. Three options for improvement given to county leaders included remodeling the current building or building a new 80-bed or 100-bed facility.
According to the study, a new facility will cost $14-$20 million depending on its size.
County Board Supervisor Tom Mallison last week said he and other County Board Members were still going through a detailed report of the center.
“Right now we’re going through the discussions, and I think our next step is to meet after the New Year to just discuss everything in the report,” Mallison said.
County leaders have considered the possibility of relocating the assisted living facility to a more central location within the city limits- an idea County Executive Patty Dreier outlined in her “campus concept” report which would reduce long-term costs by bringing all county- level services into the one area of the city. County leaders did earlier this year approve outsourcing housekeeping duties to save costs but decided a facilities study was needed before deciding to proceed with additional cost-saving plans.
Dave Rademacher, director of the health care center, said he wasn’t discuss his opinions yet, saying there was too much at stake and too much information to go through.
“We want to make the right choices for our community’s future residents, so this will take time,” he said.
Dreier, on the other hands, minced no words: “build a new one,” she said.
“We should compromise somewhere between 80 and 100 beds, but this is where I stand today- build a new one. For all the impacts of trying to remodel, you’re still not going to have staff efficiencies with linear hallways and so forth. In order to cut those operating costs, staff needs to be lifted up to do their jobs. And we’re not going to cut our legs from under us by cutting staff, so we need to address the other issues as best we can,” Dreier said.
The committee meets again to discuss the report in more detail on Jan. 8 at 3 PM at the health care center.