Opinion: County should stay out of nursing home business

Updated: Sep 7, 2021

The plan to get the county to buy into the former Prescott Country View Nursing Home building should not get any traction with the Linn County Commission

While the idea of providing a local nursing home for Linn County residents received support at some of the public meetings for the Linn County comprehensive plan update last month, the proposal by the owner to have the $750,000 tab for renovation of the building picked up by the county is an investment the county should not make.

The former nursing home was forced to close several years ago because inspections by the state regulatory agency turned up so many deficiencies. Country View was facing nearly $1 million in fines when the last resident left.

Extended care nursing facilities have changed since then. Sons and daughters who want to put Mom or Pop in a home are impressed by more up-to-date buildings with open common spaces, tastefully decorated room and plenty of amenities.

And those tastefully decorated rooms are not cheap. Private rooms can run as high as $6,000 monthly for a private room and more than $3,000 for a semiprivate room.

In a Linn County Commission meeting last month, a consultant told commissioners that the plan for the Country View building was to convert semi-private rooms into private rooms that would cost about $6,000 monthly. That would put the cost of putting Mom in a home out of reach for many county residents.

But the only way to tell is hiring a company to do a feasibility study to see if the potential residents and workers are there to make a nursing home work. Maybe it would find that the Prescott facility would work, and the county’s economic development department could help secure financing, but that might not be the case.

There are plenty of other ways that facility might be put to good use. There is a shortage of clean, safe housing in Linn County. That should be a concern for everyone, whether you are a young person just starting out or you are a retiree looking to find a place where maintenance is included in the rent.

The owner of the Prescott nursing home may yet find an investor to make his idea become a reality. If so, more power to him. The idea of an extended nursing facility in Linn County is a good one and may be worth pursuing, but the county should stay out of the nursing home business.

The Linn County Journal welcomes letters to the editor. Submit by email to rsims@linncountyjournal.com or via the Post Office to Linn County Journal, P.O. Box 526, La Cygne, KS 66040. Be sure to include your name, address and phone number where you can be reached. Please make sure your letter is 500 words or less.

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