When you think of the pressing problems in Marathon County, what is the first thing that comes to mind? Is it the opioid crisis, repair of roads or the quality of nursing home facilities?
The newly sworn in Marathon County board of supervisors have chosen the facilities at Mount View Care Center (MVCC) and North Central Health Care as the first major piece of business. The proposal first mentioned in the media on May 9th Wausau Daily Herald article is to bond for $67 Million with a total cost of $80 Million including the interest.
The North Central Health Care facilities and operations have been studied by outsiders in part or whole in 2012, 2016 and again in 2017. The recommendations of the 2016 study was to separate the MVCC out of the tri-county agreement known as North Central Health Care because the MVCC is owned by only Marathon County. Thus their recommendation is to directly report to the Marathon County Administrator Brad Karger. Another recommendation was to gather more information before proposing a renovation and consider joining an existing nursing home commission. While the Morningside recommendations were shelved in 2016, the drive to seek a directive to renovate did not go away. Hence Clifton Larson Allen was hired in 2017.
In fact 30 counties in WI do not own their nursing homes, but contract for those services. I have not seen a Request for Proposal to see how much the cost would be to contract for the residents that Marathon County is responsible. This is an alternative that should be explored before committing $80 Million in borrowing for the next 20 years.
One must also ask why the issue has not received more public input? First covered by the Daily Herald on May 9th, presented at the May 10th information meeting, and likely presented for a vote on May 15th. One must ask why the short time table? Why is there no public comment period after a proposal to commit $80 Million extensive project? Less than a week is not enough time to understand the details and thoroughly understand for those outside the study group.
If you have questions or concerns you will need to phone or email your supervisor. Again, is the county-owned nursing home the most pressing issue? Since the previous county board of supervisors added a permanent wheel tax in 2017 to fund road repair, there are no extra funds to service the debt should the proposed efficiencies not materialize.
No one is questioning the need for quality services for those who the county is required to provide services, yet there are many options to provide such care. There are way too many questions and concerns for this to be voted on May 15th, I ask that the vote be tabled until these questions are answered and a public comment meeting be allowed.
Gayle Marshall, Weston
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