Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Safe Haven compact planned for May

County agrees to pursue ‘aggressive’ timeline


By KATHERINE WUTZ
Express Staff Writer

The timeline above shows the rate at which Blaine County Administrator Derek Voss plans to wrap up certain elements of the transition between Blaine Manor and Safe Haven Health Care. The next step, the signing of a contract for service, is set to be completed May 24. Graphic courtesy of Blaine County

    Blaine County commissioners announced on Tuesday that they intend to have a contract for service signed with Pocatello-based Safe Haven Health Care by May 24, a timeline Blaine County Administrator Derek Voss called “aggressive.”
    “The service agreement is truly the most important document we create in this process,” Voss said during a commissioners’ meeting Tuesday. “I selected May 24 knowing that it was aggressive, maybe a little too aggressive.”
    The service agreement is a contract between Safe Haven Health Care, a senior care provider that operates skilled-nursing and assisted-living facilities across the state, and Blaine County. The county plans to allow Safe Haven to take over the skilled-nursing-facilities license as well as Medicaid and Medicare certification now held by Blaine Manor, the county-subsidized skilled-nursing facility in Hailey.
    In exchange, Safe Haven could be required to, among other things, maintain a certain number of skilled-nursing and Medicare beds in its new Bell Mountain Village facility planned for construction at the north end of Bellevue.
    Chief Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Tim Graves said that he will base parts of the service agreement on similar agreements between Safe Haven and a nursing home it acquired in Pocatello, as well as documents used in the transition from Moritz Hospital to St. Luke’s Wood River Medical Center.
    Graves said he is currently in the midst of a three-step process in which he will first gather information from Blaine Manor, the board of commissioners and Safe Haven to determine what the county would like to see represented in the service agreement. Next comes negotiations, he said, which could take longer than desired.
    “That is the phase I have no control over, or very little control over,” he said. “The agreement part is going to be the challenge, and I have very little control over that, because it involves two parties coming to the table.”
    Graves said Safe Haven CEO Scott Burpee has indicated that he is willing to concede some items to the county, but details such as what happens to the equipment in Blaine Manor and which organization assumes what liability associated with the building are still up for negotiation.
    Graves said he hopes the county, Safe Haven and Blaine Manor can come to agreements within the next month so the agreement can be signed as soon as possible.
    Final decisions on what personnel will remain at Blaine Manor will be completed by Aug. 23, according to a timeline provided by Voss.
    Voss said Blaine Manor officials have stated that they would prefer personnel decisions be made earlier, but that there are a number of other decisions that have to be made before the company comes up with a final staff list. For example, he said, Safe Haven will have to determine exactly what positions will still be available at Safe Haven’s facility, conduct interviews, determine insurance and other benefits, and determine the best candidates.
“Later is better for Safe Haven, sooner is better for Blaine Manor and its employees,” he said of the Aug. 23 deadline. “It’s not necessarily the best date, [but] from Scott’s point of view, that’s a lot of work to do.”
    Commissioner Jacob Greenberg said he would work extensively with Voss and Graves to ensure the commissioners’ feelings on the service agreement were represented in the final document.
    Graves said he remains optimistic that a service agreement could be signed by the May 24 deadline, in time for Burpee to use the agreement to solidly secure financing by June.
    “I think this is a relatively straightforward deal at this point in time, but you never know how you might get bogged down,” Graves said.
    There are no public discussions of senior care on the agenda for Tuesday, April 23.
    The county’s decision to allow Safe Haven to take over Blaine Manor came after months of deliberation over how best to ensure there is health care for seniors in Blaine County in future years.


Kate Wutz: kwutz@mtexpress.com




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