Washington Co., WI – The November 29, 2022 agenda posted by Washington County for its meeting of the Samaritan Home Ad Hoc Committee will include discussion on renovation /replacement of the Samaritan Home followed by discussion on demolition and closing the building.
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According to the county website: “Since first opening its’ doors in 1968 as a stand-alone nursing home, the campus has grown to include a wide array of service offerings. The Samaritan Health Center has 131 skilled and Medicare certified nursing home beds including 119 private rooms and four specially equipped rooms for bariatric clients.
Samaritan Campus serves the needs of Washington County citizens as they age and have health, housing and rehabilitation needs.
OP ED | Washington County is negotiating human lives | By Debra Kison
Former Washington County Board chairman Herb Tennies of West Bend was honored in 2016 for serving the county for 50 years. Tennies recalled a lot of discussion and focus among leaders of the community to keep the Samaritan Home intact.
“Previous county boards put money into the Samaritan,” he said.
Noting the building is a little more than 50 years old, he said “it is in fairly good shape and just needs some taking care of.”
“I was up at the last meeting at the courthouse and when I walked into the county board room I almost fell over when I looked at what they did with it. They spent a lot of money which is okay, I guess. So, they upkeep the courthouse. Why can’t they upkeep the Samaritan?”
Tennies has served on the property and grounds committee at Holy Angels School for 27 years. He said they’ve had to replace hot water heaters and they still have the original boilers in the building, even though, he said, the school building is quite old.
While on the county board, Tennies recalled setting money aside in the budget each year to support the Samaritan Home.
“We used to have a budget of over a million dollars supporting the Samaritan,” he said. “The county board members thought they owed it to the taxpayers who are using the Samaritan; maybe people had some down times in their old age and need some support and need their families nearby so they can visit.
“To tear that building down and demolish it would be a waste, a waste of money by the county.”
Tennies said, just like families put money away to take care of their children, the county should want to take care of its old people “especially those who have paid taxes all their years.”
As far as the status of the buildings, Tennies said the roof is still under warranty and The Fields is relatively new and serves other purposes.
“We just put The Fields living quarters onto that building. It’s got apartments in it and people can stay there if their loved one is in the Samaritan, and they want to live close by.
“You know, it just makes me really sad when I hear them, say they want to tear down the Samaritan and farm the people out of the community. That county takes care of people that are on disability, people that are welfare. Why can’t we take care of our older people and our people that need help.
“I’m all for keeping this Samaritan for our old people and for people who need the service of the county to help them out in bad times,” he said.
Deb Anderson was on the initial Samaritan Task Force in 2019. She also worked for five years as the senior activity’s director at the Senior Center. She said, separating families is “death making.”
Anderson was at the last Ad Hoc committee meeting in October and noted Herb Tennies was also in attendance along with Denise Kist, whose husband Roger was a long-time county supervisor.
“There were a couple of sisters who have a sister who was in Samaritan. They were there. But you know, we can’t say anything. We can’t ask questions,” said Anderson.
“I’m worried they don’t care that they’re not looking beyond the dollar. I mean, we’ve got a state that now said it has a $6 billion slush fund. So, if they’ve got this money out there, can’t they be using it to help these older people that have no other options,” said Anderson.
Questioned what county government thinks, Anderson said it is mysterious that the county executive is missing from the discussion.
“Every time I turn on the news, every time I turn on any talk shows, everybody’s talking about the mental health crisis in our country and we don’t have any place for people to go. I really think if they were to really look at the bigger picture, Josh (Schoemann) could put himself in a position of being a county hero. You know, and I wish he would do that,” said Anderson about working on a combined facility for senior citizens and mental health.
“I would rather we were an example of what we can do, rather than a county that just follows those who can’t do. If we follow the counties that have closed? That’s taking the easy road. Why can’t we be leaders and be the county that has facilities that meet the needs of our community,” she said.
Today’s Ad Hoc Samaritan Committee meeting begins at 4 p.m. in Room 1019.