The future of Rock Haven, Rock County’s nursing home, could be in the crosshairs if county officials create a new committee to study it.
At its Sept. 26 meeting, the Rock County Board will consider forming an ad hoc committee to examine current operations and determine if the county should continue operating the facility, officials said.
Supervisors Yuri Rashkin of District 15 and Rick Richard of District 9 both proposed looking into Rock Haven. The proposal before the board combines their two committees into one.
Rock County Administrator Josh Smith said the idea to examine Rock Haven’s operations arose after a longtime employee was fired and eventually reinstated after a grievance hearing.
“I think it did raise the conversation of the nursing home again and maybe some thoughts of looking at this more closely,” Smith said.
Rashkin said he wanted the board to look into Rock Haven because of the nursing home’s handling of the grievance, which stemmed from an accusation that the employee was stealing toilet paper from the facility. The grievance process cost the county more than $12,000 in legal fees.
Rashkin wants the county to focus on the procedures and culture at Rock Haven, which was built in 2013.
“It is our responsibility, as an oversight body, to make sure that something that is in our care and is our responsibility is run as well as it can be in accordance with both legal and best practices,” he said.
Richard’s proposal calls for creating a committee to study whether the county should continue to operate Rock Haven. He declined to comment Wednesday until the meeting date was closer.
The two proposals have been molded into one proposed committee, which Rashkin is excited about.
“These are all conversations that involve Rock Haven, so we might as well merge them into one conversation and figure this all out together,” he said.
He also has doubts about Rock Haven’s financial future, saying the facility is losing money.
“Because the compensation rates are below what we actually are spending to care for people, we are losing money—the county. That’s how services work,” Rashkin said.
“I think it’s fair to ask the question, ‘Do we want to be in this business?’”
Rashkin said the proposed committee would be a “team effort” and would prompt needed conversations.
“Why are we having Rock Haven is an important question that sometimes maybe we need to answer for ourselves, and remind ourselves why we spent $30 million nearly to build a new facility,” he said. “And is this an investment in our future? Are we looking to make a little profit? What is our motivation here?”
If it is created, the committee would report to the full county board, Smith said.
“If the board makes this committee, I think they’re going to take their recommendation seriously,” he said.
Although closing or selling Rock Haven will be a topic of discussion, Smith said he wants people to know the proposed committee and county board will be thorough in their examination.
“Rock Haven has an important role in the community, and we have a lot of staff there,” he said. “We’re trying not to make people nervous about something that is not at all a foregone conclusion.”