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Health district examines long-term care options

Lake Health District’s Board of Directors held extensive discussion on future plans for long-term care services during their Thursday, Sept. 5, regular business meeting.

The discussion followed previous board direction for Lake District Hospital CEO Charlie Tveit to examine and develop proposals for the future of long-term care services.

Tveit reported on four options available to the district.

The first is maintaining the status quo in taking no action, which currently is seeing estimated annual operating losses of $1 million.

A second option would be to close and cease providing long-term care services, while the latter two options involve relocating the current nursing home facility through the purchase or construction of a new building.

Tveit stressed that the first two options are not considered viable, given the need for continued services locally and that no buildings exist locally for conversion purposes.

“It’s a vital service to our community,” he said.

Tveit also said that converting an existing local structure, should one become available, would likely exceed the cost of constructing a new building from scratch.

With changes underway at Medicare, the district recognizes a need to separate the nursing home and hospital facilities, he said.

Tveit discussed a model known as The Green House Project, which is a national non-profit organization that is dedicated to creating a more natural, versus institutional, living environment for nursing home facilities.

This environment would be of a cottage-like setting, further adding to the departure from a more formalized and institutionalized setting.

The Green House Project organization, Tveit said, is affiliated with The Weinberg Foundation, a private foundation dedicated to nonprofit grants for low-income and vulnerable individuals and families for direst-service programs and providers.

Tveit said that this foundation focuses on first-in-state applicants, and no other Oregon organizations have applied for grant funding to date.

The first step the district would need to take is a feasibility study, should its decision be to seek out a new facility separate from the hospital, Tveit said.

An appraisal and valuation study would determine if the local community could support such a facility, Tveit said.  Most projects of this sort are financed through the U.S. Department of Agriculture or the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

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