Janesville44.4°

Edgerton Care Center to stay in former hospital building

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NEIL W. JOHNSON
November 5, 2011
— After months of uncertainty over the Edgerton Care Center’s future in the wake of Edgerton Hospital’s move to the city’s east end, the 61-bed nursing home finally has an answer.

The Edgerton Care Center is staying where it is.


The care center and the Edgerton Hospital and Health Systems announced Friday that the hospital plans to sell the former hospital building at 313 Stoughton Road to Wisconsin-Illinois Senior Housing, an affiliate of the care center.


A sale price was not available Friday, but Maggie Murphy, chairwoman of the care center’s board, said that Wisconsin-Illinois Senior Housing could close on the land and all buildings by Dec. 16 or sooner.


The care center, which has operated since 1970, is in rented space in the north wing at the former hospital on Stoughton Road. The hospital vacated the building in October to move into a new building at 11101 N. Sherman Road.


Under preliminary plans, Wisconsin Illinois-Senior Housing plans $5 million to $6 million in improvements to the nursing home, Murphy said, including installing a fire sprinkler system, heating and cooling upgrades and updates to patient rooms.


That work could start next summer and would cause no interruption in care at the nursing home, Murphy said.


Murphy said the nursing home, which has about 90 employees, will remain a 61-bed facility and will likely retain current staffing levels.


The purchase agreement should lay to rest public concern over whether Edgerton will continue to have a place for its nursing home in the wake of the hospital’s move, Murphy said.


“This has weighed heavily on the (Edgerton Care Center) board and the community’s mind. This agreement provides peace of mind from residents and families that they’ll continue to get the quality care that we give,” Murphy said. “It’s a huge relief.”


The purchase agreement comes after the care center entered into an affiliation in August with Wisconsin-Illinois Senior Housing and the group’s partner, Lakewood, Colo.–based management firm Carriage Healthcare Companies.


Wisconsin-Illinois Senior Housing is a nonprofit organization that operates 14 nursing homes in Wisconsin and Illinois.


Through the partnership, Wisconsin-Illinois Senior Housing will secure funding for building upgrades at the nursing home, and the care center will repay costs for work, Murphy said.


The purchase agreement also answers the question of whether or not the care center would have to build a new nursing home, a dilemma that’s existed since 2008, when the hospital and the care center split into separate operations.


Hospital officials said at the time it would be better to allow the care center to raise funding for a new $6 million nursing home with 50 beds for skilled nursing and 20 beds for assisted living.


Earlier plans to include a new care center at the new Edgerton Hospital failed to develop, dissolving in part over a lease offer from the hospital that fell through because federal lending conditions would not allow it.


Amid ongoing cuts to Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements for nursing homes, and given the economic climate, parties in the purchase agreement decided that buying the old hospital was preferable to building a new nursing home, Murphy said.


“It was not feasible to obtain the kind of financing and repayment of new construction,” Murphy said.


Under preliminary plans, much of the former hospital, including its older wings on the south end, will remain empty. Murphy said plans are unclear about whether the care center will keep or demolish those areas of the building.



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