NEWPORT The Sullivan County delegation set a date later this month to vote on the proposed nursing home renovation project, which is expected to cost $ 54 million.
The 13 delegates representing communities in Sullivan County held a public hearing on Tuesday on the project to replace the oldest building in the complex with a modern and energy efficient one, improve living space, create common areas and maximize operational efficiency through redistribution Nurse workstations and return of the county laundry service to the nursing home.
The Eagle Times has summarized the county’s responses to key questions asked during this process, including the answers the county’s residents asked Tuesday.
Why is the county proposing this project?
The Sullivan County Nursing Home consists of three buildings that have been added over time as industry practices and regulations evolve: the original Sanders Building, built in 1931; the Stearns Building, built in 1970; and the McConnell wing, which was built in 1997.
The Sanders and Stearns buildings, in particular, are not designed to meet modern regulations or housing expectations of today’s seniors or families, according to Mary Bourque, Sullivan County’s facility director.
For example, current state and federal standards require all beds to have a window and a 2: 1 ratio of occupant to bathroom. The Sanders building, which the district has closed, has neither bathrooms that are directly connected to the residents’ rooms, nor a dining room. The Stearns building, which is still in use, has a dining room and bathrooms that are directly connected to the rooms, but in many cases have a 4: 1 occupant to bathroom ratio. In addition, only some residents of the Stearns building have a window next to their bed, and the facility generally lacks common space for families with residents to visit.
While these standards were grandfatherly, any major renovation would require a facility that complies with the new regulations, according to Bourque. The county must undertake such renovations to improve its plumbing, ventilation and electrical systems, some of which are badly needed but the work of which will be intense and “invasive” for residential living.
“As soon as we touch these systems and start disrupting residents’ rooms, the state will require us to comply with the new codes,” Bourque said Tuesday. “So it’s not [simply] it’s about repairing what’s there. “
Is this the best tax time to do this project?
Project costs and timing in view of the current economic uncertainties were arguably the biggest problem among the delegates. This concern was significantly taken into account last September when the delegation rejected the project by 11-1 votes.
Several delegates who voted no last September suggested waiting a year or two to see if the economic outlook improved, while others wanted the county to consider alternative approaches, including but not limited to building a new nursing home in a more central location or reducing the project scope by reducing the facility’s bed capacity.
This year, however, some officials fear that further delaying the project will only add to costs.
Since 2019, projected project costs have increased in large part from $ 39 million to $ 54 million, driven by the rising cost of building materials and labor shortages, as well as recent federal regulations requiring the county to adjust its construction plan.
To illustrate the rapid changes in construction costs and interest rates, the estimated cost is currently $ 5 million above the amount rejected by delegates in September.
Several officials warned that construction costs are likely to rise in the near future.
“All recommended contractors [I speak to] . . . are booked, ”said Rep. Skip Rollins of Newport, who works at LaValley Building Supply. “As long as we have an influx of people who want to move to the area, build a house or buy and remodel a house, our prices will remain extremely high.”
The migration of families to New Hampshire over the past year has sparked bidding wars for available homes and the hiring of contractors, driving up the cost of contractor services, Rollins said.
Sullivan County Commissioner Ben Nelson also speculated that bond rates, which are still at all-time lows, will inevitably rise again in response to federal spending, and that construction costs are likely to rise if Congress approves the American employment plan Adopts a proposed $ 2 trillion infrastructure bill from the Bidener Administration.
“If someone can show me a scenario where construction costs will come down in the next five years, I’d love to hear it,” said Nelson.
Delaying renovations further could also mean costly risks if one of the home’s systems fails, district officials warned.
“If a serious fault occurs between the heating infrastructure and the plumbing infrastructure, we fear, in the worst case scenario, that we may endanger the health and safety of our residents and employees,” said Derek Ferland, county manager.
Ferland also provided a scenario where the delegation approves partial bond funding of $ 35 million to $ 40 million instead of $ 54 million. The county would raise the remaining funds with $ 8 million from the Federal American Rescue Plan Act and $ 5 million from the county’s Capital Reserve Fund.
The cost of the bond also depends on the conditions selected and the final maximum price guarantee for the component.
The district delegations will vote on the proposal on Monday 26 April at 7.30 p.m.