July 4, 2008

County to Decide Whether to Renovate Rock Haven

By Ann Marie Ames, The Janesville Gazette, Wis.

Jul. 4--JANESVILLE -- Rock County could spend $50,000 in 2009 to decide if it's worth renovating Rock Haven Nursing Home.

The county planned to spend $80,000 for the same thing in 2008, but shelved the plan to see how federal and state mandates could affect the timing of construction and the future of the home's demographics.

On the top of the question list were:

-- When will the home be required to install a sprinkler system?

-- How will Family Care work in Rock County?

Rock Haven serves a steady population of 130. The home was built in 1964 to hold 248. The last downsizing was in 2007.

Aside from lacking sprinklers, Rock Haven also lacks central air conditioning. Many of the patients' bathrooms need to be upgraded to be more accessible, Rock Haven Director Sherry Gunderson said.

The Family Care question still is a work in progress, but the results of a recent study were gloomy, Rock County Long Term Support Manager Jennifer Thompson said.

Family Care is a managed care program intended to streamline funding for adults who depend on government money for care. The state has mandated that counties participate in Family Care by 2011 and that they give to the state the same amount of money they've been spending on long-term and disabled care, said Family Care Expansion Director Judith Frye.

One of the goals of Family Care is to reduce the number of people in nursing homes such as Rock Haven.

Rock County has partnered with Dane County to study how Family Care would work for them. The study showed that using the state's formula, the counties would not be able to cover their costs, Thompson said.

The Wisconsin Department of Health and Family Services will review the study, and Thompson hopes the state will open a line of dialogue with Dane and Rock counties before the two are required to go join.

Another question that forced a delay for the Rock Haven study was when nursing homes would be required to install sprinkler systems.

That's been answered.

The centers for Medicare and Medicaid services announced in June they will require nursing homes to have sprinkler systems in place by 2013, Gunderson said.

Rock Haven, 3418 N. County F, Janesville, does not have a sprinkler system, and it could cost $1.3 million to install one, Gunderson said.

The time will be right in 2009 for a study of Rock Haven, officials said, because the sprinkler question is answered and the county is ready to have a conversation with the state about Family Care.

The study will only look at the feasibility of renovation, Gunderson said. The goal is to know a year from now whether it would be cost effective to upgrade the building. Building a new facility or closing the existing one will not be part of the study.


Some Rock County department heads are doing fiscal calisthenics to get in shape for 2009.

Heads of the county's biggest departments are having pre-budget meetings with Administrator Craig Knutson and the committees that oversee the departments.

All departments must present 2009 budgets to Knutson in August, he said.

The pre-budget process gives department heads time to consider needs going into the next year and gives Knutson and county board members an early look at looming budget pressures, Knutson said.

So far, Rock Haven and the Developmental Disabilities Board have made pre-budget presentations, Knutson said.

Other departments working on pre-budget exercises are human services, the sheriff's office and public works.

Developmental Disabilities Board Director Tom Perry told the county board staff and finance committee that his department operates with a staff of nine and a $26 million budget.

Perry told The Janesville Gazette that long waiting lists for services continue to be a problem for the department.

Rock Haven Director Sherry Gunderson told the finance and staff committee the nursing home was expected to bring in more revenue in 2008 than in 2007.

That lowered the tax levy request for the home by $34,000 to $6.7 million in 2008.

The county will plan a $50,000 study in 2009 to help determine the future of the home.


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Copyright (c) 2008, The Janesville Gazette, Wis.

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