By Shereen Siewert
WAUSAU — By a wide majority, the Marathon County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday approved borrowing $67 million to fund the North Central Health Care Master Facility Plan, with no expected increase in taxes for residents.
The measure, which required a super majority vote, passed by a margin of 33 to 5, with two supervisors absent. Shawn Black, Bill Miller and Jim Schaefer voted against the proposal. Board members who did not attend were also counted as “no” votes.
The plan includes renovations and upgrades to the facility while providing a roadmap for future services, county leaders say. Under the plan, NCHC will repay the debt to the county for debt service payments, according to county documents. The total cost of the project is $73.4 million, $6.4 million of which represents the warm water therapy pool already targeted for reconstruction.
The current health care campus was built in the early 1970s, with the most recent renovation in 1986, when Mount View Care Center was built.
Among the upgrades, the plan includes adding beds for addiction treatment, moving some beds out of the nursing home and creating flexible neighborhood pods of 16 beds each that will allow for future flexibility as needs change or increase. The plan will also reduce energy costs, according to county documents.
NCHC CEO Michael Loy, in a YouTube video presenting the plan, explains that the current facility will tighten up the footprint for the entire campus, improve technology and increase staff’s ability to meet the needs of patients. At Mount View, the county’s nursing home, the renovation will include creating fully private rooms and bathrooms. Currently, residents share both rooms and bathrooms.
Passing the plan also gives the green light for the pool project, which has already been approved and funded. Without a funded master plan, the pool project remained in limbo due to uncertainty over its location.
See the full video below.
“Our county priorities are firmly rooted in the services that North Central Health Care provides,” said Katie Rosenberg, who represents District 1 and voted for the measure. “They are part of the front lines when it comes to the opioid and addiction crisis. Not funding this plan will hinder or cripple their ability to work toward our shared goals as a county.”