SPARTA—The Monroe County Rolling Hills Committee discussed the status of excess nursing home beds during the committee’s monthly meeting Monday.

County administrator Jim Bialecki said county officials and Rolling Hills Rehabilitation and Nursing Home director Linda Smith met with Tomah Memorial Hospital CEO Phil Stuart about potentially housing 25 nursing home beds at the existing Tomah Memorial building after the hospital moves into the new Tomah Health campus in October.

The county has proposed a new nursing home facility that would be licensed for 50 beds, but the county is licensed for 80 beds, Bialecki said. The 30 beds could be lost to the county if they don’t remain licensed with the state.

“The thought was that perhaps a piece of the existing hospital building could be converted to house as many as 25 of the excess nursing home beds − the 30 remaining ones − in that building,” he said. “That has only been a proposal to us, but in that scenario, that makes good sense if they have nothing over there ... looking at the long-term care needs now and in the future.”

It’s an option to consider as the baby boomers age, Bialecki said. Unlike millennials, who are moving to urban areas, Bialecki said boomers are staying in place, along with their medical needs. Eventually the county will need to expand the nursing home, and placing some rooms at the Tomah Memorial Hospital site could be an option to support more people.

Smith said the meeting was a “very light conversation” with nothing specific fleshed out. She said it was just discussing possible options for the future need of more nursing home beds.

The Tomah Memorial building is in good shape, meets health care requirements for nursing home and hospital space and is “very modernized,” Bialecki said. Little would have to be done to convert it to nursing home space.

Smith agreed with Bialecki’s assessment.

“There would be a lot of factors to look at with that, but for the most part the building/structure is pretty good, but there would be a lot of things to talk about because they’ve also talked about other entities going in and sharing that building,” Smith said. “It could be a challenge to go through and just figure that all out, but there are options there, and we weren’t making any decisions; we’re just gathering information to see where we’re at.”

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