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Rock County Board OKs plan to seek designs for Rock Haven

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NEIL W. JOHNSON
June 11, 2010
— The Rock County Board on Thursday approved a plan for architects to draw up designs for a new Rock Haven Nursing Home.

The board voted unanimously to spend $224,000 for Eppstein Uhen Architects, Milwaukee, to draw up schematic designs to show what a new county nursing home facility would look like.


The move comes after the county’s general services and health services committees unanimously approved the design plan last week.


The county spent $40,000 on a 2009 study over whether to renovate the current Rock Haven Nursing Home, an aging, multi-story facility, or to build a new nursing home.


Thursday, County Board Chairman Russ Podzilni advised the board of the gravity of its decision to design a new nursing home.


“If we proceed with a schematic design, you’re pretty much suggesting strongly that we are going to build a new facility,” he said.


Federal laws require that the county install safety sprinklers by 2013, as well as other handicap accessible upgrades at the existing Rock Haven Nursing Home.


Podzilni told the Gazette in an interview Thursday that installing a sprinkler system at the current nursing home could cost as much as $2 million.


Total costs to renovate and expand the current nursing home could cost as much as $27.9 million, Rock County Administrator Craig Knutson said Thursday.


Knutson compared that to the $27.5 million price tag for a new 128-bed facility.


“It would be just as expensive to renovate Rock Haven and add on to it as it would be to build a brand new building,” he said.


Knutson said the county would have to borrow to build a new nursing home. The project would be paid back through the county’s tax levy.


Architects will have the design ready by September, officials said.


Pending budgeting and board approval, architectural plans could be drawn up and readied for construction on a new nursing home to start by summer 2011, Rock Haven Nursing Home Administrator Sherry Gunderson said Thursday.


She said the designs will show what the new facility would look like and provide a basic floor plan. The architects also will detail costs for the facility.


The current Rock Haven Nursing Home is set up to serve 130 patients. Plans for a new facility could serve a maximum of 128 patients, Gunderson said.


Gunderson told the Gazette the layout of the new facility would be a single floor, neighborhood design that would cluster patient groups around a central atrium, based on their disorders and needs.


That’s different from the current nursing home, which is a multi-floor building with wards connected by long hallways.


Gunderson said the new facility’s layout would allow Rock Haven to safely keep a leaner staff.


She said any cuts to staff would be made through attrition and hiring freezes.



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