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Future of Samaritan Home in Washington County may come down to referendum

Washington Co., WI – The Washington County Board received a brief update on the future of the Samaritan Home during its Wednesday, July 14, 2021, meeting.

Matt Furno, Washington County Policy Director, has taken the lead on the issue from the get-go. He presented the upcoming timeline to review the issue since Cedar Community notified the County on July 16, 2021, that is was backing away from a public-private partnership.

Samaritan

Samaritan

 

Supervisor Carroll Merry said people in Germantown were not even familiar with what the Samaritan Home was about. He stressed a blitz of information to bring the community up to speed on the issue.

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.

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A couple highlights from the County Board discussion:

  • Supervisor Tim Michalak – “Can we utilize any of the COVID relief funds to address this trillion dollar problem?”
  • Matt Furno – “Once we present to Health and Human Services and after the October 13, 2021 meeting, if we get a green light we would look at the architectural and engineering reimbursement from state government and come up with a reasonable plan.”
  • Furno said the government has about $168,000 and that will be spent on a patient record system.
  • Supervisor Randy Marquardt – “Was there anybody else we could approach to pursue a public-private partnership?”
  • Matt Furno – “To the best of my knowledge that doesn’t exist. This was an excellent opportunity with Cedar Community.”
  • Supervisor Peter Sorce – “Could we address this in a referendum?”
  • Supervisor Kristine Deiss – “We talked about a referendum at the Health and Human Services meeting. I felt it was something the County Board should look at and we need public feedback about how it is worded.”

Click HERE for the analysis and report from WIPFLI

County Executive Joshua Schoemann said a referendum is the thought right now. “We’re waiting for Matt to finish his work .. but that’s how we’re walking into it is an April 2022 referendum,” he said.

While more discussion is needed, Schoemann said the question will be financial in nature.

“The underlying premise is should the County even be in this business,” he said. “The study WIPFLI did for us tell us there’s enough beds in the private and non-profit sectors.. they are just not taking Title 19 clientele. Title 19 Medicaid doesn’t reimburse enough so there’s enough beds but that doesn’t mean there’s enough for Title 19 folks and that’s always been the County’s bailiwick. Which is not the same in every county; many counties will take anybody.”

Washington County is in line to receive approximately $26.2 million in federal COVID relief funding. Schoemann said it is possible the federal money the County will be receiving could pay for this.

“That’s why I said we have to let Matt finish all his work. By the time he finishes we should have final guidance from the U.S. Treasury.  I don’t know that it would pay for all of it but it may be able to pay for a good portion,” he said.

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