Senior Campus Eyed In Spring Lake

March 19, 2004
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GRAND HAVEN — A $6.1 million nursing home is just the first component of a broader development North Ottawa Community Health System has planned for north of town.

The small Grand Haven-based health system envisions turning the 13-acre site in Spring Lake into a “senior campus” that mixes skilled nursing care and a hospice unit with assisted- and independent-living centers, all located in a “peaceful and relaxing” environment.

“What we’d like to do is create a senior campus so you’ve got that continuum of care that people in this market really expect,” North Ottawa Health System President Mike Payne said. “We can just see so many opportunities in that nice environment.”

The health system this month filed a certificate-of-need application with the Michigan Department of Community Health to relocate the existing 64-bed North Ottawa Care Center in Grand Haven to the new campus planned nearly three miles away in Spring Lake. In separate applications, North Ottawa Community Health seeks approval for 20 additional nursing beds, at a cost of $1.6 million, and a $1.2 million, eight-bed hospice unit.

The health system will have to compete with Freedom Village in Holland for the 20 additional nursing beds that are available in Ottawa County under recently updated state licensing guidelines, said Lody Zwarensteyn of the health-care planning agency Alliance for Health. The state made 97 additional beds available in Ottawa County, 77 of which Sault Ste. Marie-based Tender Care would take under plans, now awaiting regulatory approval, to develop a new nursing home in Holland.

North Ottawa Community Health’s new facility will still go forward regardless of whether state approval is received for the 20 additional beds, Payne said.

The existing 24,769-square-foot North Ottawa Care Center is an aging facility that’s too small to meet modern demands and requires costly upgrades. The nearly 40-year-old facility “does not reflect current standards/market expectations for providing a home-like care environment that promotes quality of life,” North Ottawa Community Health stated in its CON application.

“We have to do it. We’ve gone as far as we can in the building we’re in,” Payne said.

Planned as a replacement is a 28,000-square-foot nursing home with eight private and 28 semi-private rooms housed in a facility designed to “appear as residential as possible,” the CON application states.

Beyond the nursing home and hospice-care units, North Ottawa Community Health hopes to see assisted- and independent-living units developed on the site in the near future, Payne said. The health system would seek a private partner to do the independent-living center and do the assisted-living units with a partner or on its own, he said.

Developing the senior-citizen campus enables North Ottawa Community Health to address two objectives: meeting a growing market demand for that kind of housing and service as the population ages; and better establishing a presence in the Grand Haven-Spring Lake area north of the Grand River, where the health system’s market share lags.

By creating a first-ever major campus in the northern part of the market, North Ottawa Community Health can begin building a stronger presence among residents in the Spring Lake and Ferrysburg areas.

“We’ve got to establish a presence and say ‘we think you’re important enough to establish a part of our business in your neighborhood,’” Payne said.    

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