Nursing homes may come to Ottawa County

October 24, 2009
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A compromise will allow three organizations to bring new nursing homes to two Hudsonville locations as well as possibly to the corner of U.S. 31 and M-45.

Two Christian Reformed nonprofits — Rest Haven Christian Services, of Tinley Park, Ill., and Sunset Association of Jenison — and North Ottawa Community Hospital now have plans to add nursing home beds in Ottawa County.

NOCH withdrew an earlier bid with the Michigan Department of Community Health for a new 150-bed nursing home and replaced it with a request to change the location and trim the beds to 125, said Lody Zwarensteyn, president of Alliance for Health, a nonprofit health planning agency that covers 13 West Michigan counties.

That allowed Sunset Association, which operates the Brookcrest Nursing Home in Grandville, to request 25 nursing home beds for its Waterford Place development in Hudsonville.

Sunset now is dropping its appeal of the MDCH’s Certificate of Need Commission approval for Rest Haven, which operates the 153-bed Haven Park Christian Nursing Home in Zeeland, to build 25 nursing home beds in Hudsonville.

The scramble to place new nursing home beds in Ottawa County began more than a year ago, when the CON Commission agreed to allow 175 more beds there. It became one of the few locations in Michigan to receive additional nursing home beds.

NOCH Chief Communications Officer Jennifer VanSkiver said the previous location, 20 acres on Buchanan Street near U.S. 31 in Grand Haven Township, proved to be too difficult to develop for the $16.8 million, 90,000-square-foot facility the hospital had proposed.

“Unfortunately, that particular site, as it turns out, would be very difficult to develop,” Van Skiver said, due to railroad tracks and wetlands. “We would have had to spend a significant amount of investment just to be able to break ground.”

She said the hospital, which operates a nursing home in Spring Lake, is considering a 48-acre site at U.S. 31 and M-45, but negotiations are still pending.

The CON Commission awarded NOCH the 150 beds last year, which permitted only 25 more. That set up a “comparative review” in which Alliance for Health and MDCH staff considered the relative merits of applications from Sunset Association and Rest Haven.

If the regulatory approvals come together, Sunset Association hopes to add the skilled nursing beds and assisted living to the continuum of care for Waterford Place.

Brookcrest Administrator Steve Zuiderveen said that if state approvals for the skilled nursing beds fall into place, the organization would like to break ground at Waterford Place in late 2010 for the nursing home, assisted living units and a second phase of independent living apartments.

Zuiderveen said 67 of the 84 units in the first independent living facility are spoken for and some tenants have started to move in. He said demand seems to be strong.

“We are finding that financing is becoming more available,” Zuiderveen added. “It’s much more conducive for this than it was six or nine months ago, even. We’re better able to make this a good business decision, based on the financing.”

He also said skilled nursing beds at Waterford would add flexibility for housing arrangements at Brookcrest, which is unable to build an addition. Although the two locations are only about three miles apart, Brookcrest is in Kent County and Waterford Place is in Ottawa County.

While the Alliance for Health endorsed Sunset Association’s original application earlier this year and did not endorse the application from Rest Haven, the MDCH saw it differently and awarded 25 beds to Rest Haven.

Sunset Association appealed. However, as NOCH altered its plans, Sunset Association was able to apply for the beds that the hospital trimmed from its plans, giving room for all three proposals.

Rest Haven’s Park Place Inn of Hudsonville would be located at 5875 Balsam Drive and would be built to eventually accommodate as many as 50 beds, according to its CON application. The $10.83 million project would include two 10-unit buildings that would share a common wall and a 30-unit building. Construction would total 38,000 square feet.

In its new application for North Ottawa Care Center South, NOCH is proposing a $17 million, 75,000-square-foot, single-story skilled nursing center on 48.5 acres at the northeast corner of U.S. 31 and M-45.

In its latest application, Sunset is proposing to spend $7 million on a 25-bed skilled nursing unit with 21 private rooms and two semi-private rooms. The application provides no further description.

“We are now proceeding with a review of two eligible applications for 150 beds,” Zwarensteyn said. “This allows them to do their thing so everybody in Ottawa County is happy.”

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