Local panel endorses new nursing home projects for Ottawa County

December 21, 2009
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One more stop remains on the path toward state approval of a total of 150 nursing home beds for Ottawa County.

The Alliance for Health Evaluation Board last week endorsed two proposed nursing home projects, one in Georgetown Township and one in Grand Haven Township. The proposals now move on to Lansing for Michigan Department of Community Health CON review, with decisions anticipated in March.

A third project, which received CON approval earlier this year, will add another 25 beds in the lakeshore county.

Sunset Association, a Christian Reformed nonprofit, is hoping to build a 25-bed nursing home on the campus of Waterford Place, 1725 Port Sheldon Road, in Georgetown Township, in order to provide a continuum of care at the site. Waterford Place opened this fall with independent living apartments for people age 62 or older, and Sunset plans to add assisted living as well as skilled nursing at the location at the corner of 18th Avenue and Port Sheldon.

According to a summary of the project, Sunset plans to spend $7 million for the 28,837-square-foot nursing home project. Twenty-one rooms would be private and two would be semi-private. Another 19 beds will be built to meet nursing home standards, but will be used for assisted living for the indefinite future.

Steve Zuiderveen, administrator at Sunset’s Brookcrest nursing home in Grandville, said the organization hopes to start construction in 2011 on a comprehensive project that would include a parking ramp with the nursing home above it and assisted living on the floor above the skilled nursing, as well as a 110-unit second phase of independent living. Opening would be targeted for late 2012.

“Our desire would be to do it all at the same time as the second phase of independent living, if the financing can be all pulled together,” Zuiderveen said. “It’s most cost effective, if we can.”

He said the nursing home would serve those already living in Sunset facilities, but “it is intended to focus primarily on subacute rehabilitation — people coming from hospitals.”

The nursing home alone is expected to provide more than 33 full-time jobs.

North Ottawa Community Hospital has proposed a 125-bed, 75,000-square-foot, $17 million nursing home on 48.5 acres on the northeast corner of Lake Michigan Drive and U.S. 31, according to the Alliance for Health filings.

NOCH is anticipating an occupancy rate of 85 percent after three years of operation. The Alliance for Health evaluation indicated that the proposed nursing home’s margin of more $990,023 after three years is expected to mitigate NOCH’s operating losses, which reached $4 million for its last fiscal year.

However, NOCH’s decision to build was born of its mission and strategic plan, CFO Don Longpre said.

“To build this facility is more of our commitment to the community than anything else,” he said.

Longpre said state CON action may come in March, and NOCH would be obligated to break ground by 2012. With a construction phase of more than one year, it would be 2013 before the doors could be opened.

The new facility would add 110 full-time jobs, according to the Alliance for Health analysis.

NOCH Chief Communications Officer Jennifer VanSkiver, who is board chair of the Alliance for Health, declined to comment due to conflict of interest.

Alliance for Health President Lody Zwarensteyn said that the MDCH increased the number of beds available in Ottawa County after a periodic review.

“There is a standard formula, looking at how many beds you are using and what the population is going to be,” Zwarensteyn said. “In the case of Ottawa County, it changed a lot.”

The third project, Rest Haven’s Park Place Inn of Hudsonville, already has CON approval for 25 beds from the MDCH. It 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.

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