By LeAnn R. Ralph
COLFAX — The Colfax Health and Rehabilitation Center has offered to donate the former nursing home building on High Street to the Village of Colfax.
CHRC would donate the building, and the village would pay the costs associated with transferring the title, said Lynn Niggemann, village administrator-clerk-treasurer, at the Colfax Plan Commission’s September 6 meeting.
CHRC also would ask the village to suspend CHRC’s payment-in-lieu-of-taxes (PILOT) for several years, she said.
[emember_protected] Prior to building the new nursing home facility on the south side of town, Area Nursing Home became a 501.c(3) non-profit. Part of the developer’s agreement for the new facility included a PILOT payment to the village.
Colfax Health and Rehab had plans to open an Alzheimer’s and dementia unit at the old facility, but those plans are currently on hold.
The Colfax Plan Commission recommended in June of 2016 that the village board approve plans for CHRC’s proposal for the Minneblom Assisted Living & Memory Care facility at the old nursing home.
CHRC had hoped to have the new Minneblom open by January of this year.
The Alzheimer’s and dementia unit at Area Nursing home, before the new Colfax Health and Rehab facility was built, also was called Minneblom, the Norwegian word for “forget-me-not,” a small blue or white flower with a yellow center.
Wisconsin has the lowest Medicaid reimbursement rate for nursing homes in the United States, and many nursing homes in the state are facing financial difficulties.
According to “Long-term Care Workforce Crisis: A 2016 Report,” the average Wisconsin facility is losing $55.89 per day for each Medicaid recipient.
According to information from LeadingAge Wisconsin, Wisconsin Medicaid nursing home funding for fee-for-service payments has decreased by more than $100 million since 2012.
In addition to the decline in Medicaid reimbursement rates, Medicare reimbursement also is declining because of the federal sequestration
An austerity fiscal policy, the federal Budget Control Act of 2011 which went into effect in 2013, reduced Medicare payments by 2 percent per year.
The federal Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 extended Medicare sequestration until 2025 and continues to decrease Medicare provider and plan payments by 2 percent each year.
40,000 square feet
All together, the former nursing home facility sits on a four-acre lot and also includes a house that is currently being rented out, Niggemann told the plan commission at the September 6 meeting.
The former nursing home building is 40,000 square feet, she said.
“They want to get rid of the building,” Niggemann said.
To put the square footage into perspective, Kyle’s Market in Colfax is 10,000 square feet.
The village is still hoping to find a medical care provider for the clinic, and a daycare has been suggested for the building, Niggemann said.
Village department heads have visited the old nursing home to see which village offices and departments might be able to be located there.
Right now, the village is working on a cost analysis of moving various departments to the former nursing home building, said Rand Bates, director of public works.
The facility does not have a garage for the Colfax Rescue Squad or for the police department, and the building would have to be remodeled to accommodate the Colfax Public Library, he said.
The library would require the largest remodeling project of any of the departments, Niggemann said.
On the other hand, even though there is no garage for the ambulances, the rescue squad area would require very little remodeling and could use one wing of the building, she said.
A sprinkler system for fire suppression would have be installed in the wing if the rescue squad were to move to the old nursing home, Niggemann said.
Other possibilities that have been considered include moving the village clerk’s office and the Colfax Police Department to the Department of Public Works building on Railroad Avenue, expanding the rescue squad into the DPW cold storage, building a new public works building at the lift station, and allowing the library to expand into the remainder of the municipal building, Niggemann said.
One plan commission member noted the remodeling of the former nursing home and the moving of offices sounded expensive.
“People in Colfax are getting sick of paying taxes,” said Dave Hovre, plan commission member.
“It’s time to put the brakes on and to start thinking,” he said.
The former nursing home building is a “white elephant. You might get it for nothing, but you’d spend $1 million to remodel it,” Hovre said.
The former nursing home building has two separate basements and two separate heating systems, Bates said.
“I think you will be shocked by the price comparison,” he said.
Nothing has been decided yet, Niggemann said.
“We want to evaluate and see the options,” she said.
In addition to Hovre, plan commission members include Nancy Hainstock, Dave Wolff (village trustee), Jason Johnson, Mike Buchner, and Gary Stene, village president.
Stene was absent from the September 6 meeting. [/emember_protected]