West Bend, WI – After returning from a lengthy closed session around 11:30 p.m. the Washington Co. Board voted 13-8 to sell the Samaritan Home.
Supervisor Brian Krebs made the motion which was seconded by Supervisor James Burg.
There was a noticeable gasp from people sitting in the gallery.
Supervisor Mike Schwab said, “I heard a sign of distain from the gallery and we made this motion because we believe it is in the best interest of the community, not only in the short term but also in the long term. I believe that you will find that to be true if you have the patience to listen and learn and see the final result.
“As was mentioned before a lot of research went into this and as it was presented we believe, I believe this is the best option forward not just for the county, but also for the residence and the employees, what we have if this sale moves forward and I would encourage my colleagues to support it.”
Supervisor Krebs added a note indicating the county executive was to report to the executive committee updates on the sale.
Supervisor Denis Kelling said he would support the resolution to sell the Samaritan. “I do believe it will it will take care of everyone in this room and across the street. You are our obligation and we will take care of you and I don’t like when people have been using scare tactics against you saying you’re going to end up on the street. Legally that’s not possible and morally I would not stand for it. Everybody here should know you will have a place, you will always have a place. Nobody is going anywhere, that’s my promise. Don’t listen to the naysayers. You have a home here and we will take care of you. That is my sincere promise.”
Supervisor Linda Gurath thanked everyone for their support. “I also want you to know the background info on companies interested in purchasing is very positive in how they operate their businesses. I just want you to feel at ease and it will be companies that provide quality care so don’t worry too much about this.”
Those voting to save the Samaritan included supervisors Lois Krueger-Gundrum, Pam Konrath, Linda Gurath, Jeff Millikin, Chris Bossert, Robert Hartwig, Joseph Vespalec and Marietta Bailey.
Those voting to sell the Samaritan included Jodi Schulteis, Carroll Merry, James Burg, Tony Thoma, Doug Newman, Brian Krebs, Brian Gallitz, Kenneth Mikulec, William Symicek, Jeff Schleif, Mike Schwab, Denis Kelling, and John Schodron.
Senior citizens from the Samaritan Home packed the Washington County Board room as supervisors weighed the future of the Samaritan Health Center at its April 12, 2023, meeting. Residents were wheeled into the board room as other supporters held “Save Our Samaritan’ signs.
There were also two overflow rooms to handle more people who supported the Samaritan.
At issue was whether the county should be in the senior care business; should it continue to invest in senior care even though, it is said to be a service “not mandated by the state.” As of the November 29, 2022 the Ad Hoc Committee agenda read, “Washington County agenda to discuss “renovation, demolition, closure” of Samaritan Home.
On Wednesday evening after a lengthy closed session the board voted 13 – 8 to sell the Samaritan.
The initial meeting began with a statement by Supervisor Linda Gurath who chaired the Ad Hoc Committee and called out County Board Chairman Jeff Schleif.
“On March 1, I sat in on a meeting of the Samaritan Ad Hoc Committee. This committee continues to dig into all the details surrounding the possibilities moving forward. There have been many very good discussions, which has been good. What was not good, in my opinion is the dissemination of information, which is not completely accurate. This has served to make me untrustworthy of some of the findings. So that’s the quote from the report to publicly falsely accuse the Ad Hoc Committee like this, in my opinion, is extremely low and unprofessional. Usually, when a chair sets up an Ad Hoc Committee, that chair is supportive of the committee. Our chair has been anything but supportive as evidenced in his monthly report. If he had a legitimate concern, he should have addressed it privately. Chairman Schleif, please remove that paragraph from the record,” said Supervisor Gurath.
Schleif responded by saying he would remove the paragraph. “But I will remind you that we had many conversations, and your committee was slanted right from the start. So, I stand by my feeling, and we’ll move on.”
Then Supervisor Lois Gundrum chimed in. “There have been many times in the past and supervisors in public comment have said words they regret. But by the end of the meeting, most of the supervisors in fact, all of them have reached out to one another and expressed their regret for saying things in the heat of the moment. We do that because we respect one another. But this is so different from that, Mr. Chairman, this was thought about, put in writing, and made part of a public record to say that, in your opinion, there was an intentional act to mislead the public with inaccurate information is a disrespect to the Ad Hoc Committee, the members of the staff and the professionals who worked on this. I’m thanking you that you’re going to remove that paragraph from your report and I think that is the very least you can do but an apology is certainly needed,” said Gundrum.
With that, Schleif apologized. “In that case, I apologize. Perhaps I was out of line. But my feelings are still my feelings.”
There was about an hours-worth of presentation on studies, data, money, federal funding … or the lack thereof, facility capacity, beds, staffing and more on staffing.
According to the agenda, “The Board needs to determine whether county government is better suited to manage this care or is the private sector better equipped. If the Board concludes county government run long term care is best, then either remodeling or rebuilding must be the conclusion. If the Board concludes the private sector is more appropriate, then a sale of Samaritan is the option to be pursued.”
The county executive made a final statement, “The county is capable of staying in the business but the model has to change.”
The board moved into closed session around 9 p.m.
This is a working story and more information will be posted when details become available.
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