LETTER: Time has come for nursing home closureIt appears from last week’s letters to the editor that the fiscal issues at the St. Croix County nursing home in New Richmond are once again in the news.
To the Editor:
It appears from last week’s letters to the editor that the fiscal issues at the St. Croix County nursing home in New Richmond are once again in the news.
I served on the county board for six years, and it became apparent during that time that the operation of the nursing home was a financial drain for the whole county. Every year at budget time, the county board is faced with the facts that the nursing home continues to operate in the red, even with levy support.
From 2000-2011, the operating losses at the county nursing home total $19,047,640 (these are audited numbers). The projected operating loss for 2012 is $l.4 million.
The nursing home has eliminated 22 beds, now serving 50 residents, and still cannot break even. When is enough enough? There are levy limits in place for counties which require supervisors to make tough choices in services provided.
The advisory referendum which passed this past spring was misleading at best to the voters. It indicated that the tax levy for the nursing home was approximately $333,000. I voted against having that referendum because I knew that the history of the operation indicated that the true tax contribution to the home would be much greater.
There are 70 to 80 empty nursing home beds every week in the county, allowing plenty of room for current residents of the county home to find places to reside. The federal and state government are encouraging alternate care initiatives for nursing home residents.
There is now a $1.8 million Medicaid reimbursement available to the county to assist in closing the county-owned home. I encourage the county board to take advantage of the dollars available to assist in closing the nursing home. It is time to act.