Facility Wants To Increase Nursing Beds

June 21, 2002
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HOLLAND — Freedom Village wants to more than double its number of skilled nursing beds, a move that would take up a portion of the licensed beds that recently became available in Ottawa County.

The Inn at Freedom Village, a medical care facility within the senior-citizen housing complex, is seeking state approval to covert 24 home-for-the-aged beds into nursing home beds. The conversion, when coupled with the 15 existing beds, would bring to 39 the number of licensed nursing-home beds at The Inn.

The Alliance for Health will hold a public hearing on Freedom Village’s request for a state Certificate of Need required to proceed with the conversion. The Alliance for Health, a Grand Rapids-based regional health-care planning agency, will recommend to the Michigan Department of Community Health whether to issue a Certificate of Need (CON).

An Alliance for Health staff review of Freedom Village’s CON application has met with favorable response.

The conversion would cost Freedom Village only $5,000 and address a 102-bed shortfall in nursing home beds in Ottawa County, Alliance President Lody Zwarensteyn said. Freedom Village is the only organization in Ottawa County to show an interest in acquiring additional nursing-home beds, he said.

“It’s a simple proposal,” Zwarensteyn said. “The bed need is established in the county and the cost is minimal.”

The present shortfall in nursing home beds in Ottawa County stems from the closing earlier this year of the 198-bed Birchwood Care Center in Marne.

The fact that Freedom Village is only seeking to acquire a small portion of the available licensed beds indicates that it “is not looking to grab the whole market,” Zwarensteyn said.

“Freedom Village just wants to serve its own,” he said.

The demand for nursing home beds is soft right now. Medicaid two years ago began allowing waivers that enables recipients to receive reimbursement for alternative care that allows them to live at home, Zwarensteyn said.

Opened in 1991, Freedom Village consists of a 335-unit senior-citizen apartment facility and The Inn, a long-term care community that offers assisted-living, Alzheimer’s, skilled-nursing, hospice and respite care.

In its CON application, the organization would ultimately need 50 to 60 skilled nursing beds for its residents.

The public hearing on Freedom Village’s request is scheduled for 10:15 a.m. Wednesday, Oct. 31, at the McKay Tower conference room, 140 Monroe Center, Suite 500, in downtown Grand Rapids.

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