Competition May Arise For Ottawa Nursing Home Beds

April 20, 2008
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GRAND HAVEN — A Southfield company faces competition for 150 of the 167 new nursing home beds expected to become available this year in Ottawa County.

North Ottawa Community Health System, which recently opened a new skilled nursing facility in Spring Lake Township, has submitted a letter of intent to re-open its 1615 S. Despelder St. building with 150 beds.

The proposal comes on the heels of one from Ciena Healthcare Management, which is seeking Michigan Department of Community Health certificate of need approval for a 167-bed nursing home at 14811 168th Ave.

However, NOCHS marketing director Emily Stearley said the health system intends to sell the Despelder building.

“We don’t have any significant plans,” Stearley said. “The beds became available and we put in an LOI just to see what happens. We have no plans at the moment.”

Should NOCHS and Ciena move forward in the process by submitting applications, the Michigan Department of Community Health would choose between them and any other contenders this summer, said Lody Zwarensteyn, president of the Alliance for Health, a local health care planning agency. The Alliance for Health would review competing applications and make a recommendation to the state Certificate of Need Commission.

The commission last month approved new nursing home standards that include the change in bed allocations. The changes go into effect in May, after a 45-day period for legislative review.

While Ottawa County’s allocation would increase from 874 to 1,060, the county already has 893 beds, according to the Alliance for Health.

State regulators contend that other West Michigan counties already have too many nursing home beds. For Kent County, the recommendation is a 7 percent decline in the number of beds; for Muskegon County, a nearly 14 percent reduction; and for Kalamazoo County, a 4.5 percent reduction.

Also seeing significant growth in nursing home bed allocations are Macomb and Livingston counties in Southeast Michigan, and competition is cropping up there, as well.

The 64 residents of North Ottawa Community Care Center moved last week from the Grand Haven location to the health system’s $9 million Heartwood Lodge, said Amanda Robertson, development director. The number of skilled nursing beds has been expanded to 84 there to accommodate a new short-term rehabilitation service, an area that has seen expansion in nursing homes in recent years thanks to Medicare reimbursement rules.

The new facility, which will follow the Eden Alternative care model, has three 28-bed “neighborhoods” surrounding a central area for dining, laundry and other services. Fifty-six rooms will be private. Robertson said Heartwood Lodge also will include eight beds for hospice care, the first time the North Ottawa health system has offered inpatient hospice.

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