North Central Health Care Plans to Remodel Mount View

Community Updates

Officials from North Central Health Care are working with leaders from Marathon County to develop a remodeling plan for Mount View Care Center— a nursing home in Wausau partially funded by county taxpayers — to better serve patients.

The remodel would be one of the first of many changes officials hope to unveil at North Central Health Care, which offers programs for patients seeking mental and physical care. Officials also hope to introduce new drug, alcohol and adolescent programs during the next year.

Gary Bezucha, the chief executive officer for North Central Health Care, said he wants to remodel and possibly rebuild the dementia and long-term care wards of the roughly 40-year-old nursing home to update outdated rooms and technology at Mount View. “We’re providing 21st century care in a building that was built back in the ’70s and ’80s,” Bezucha said. “We are engaging in a master facility planning process to identify how we can modify our physical plan to deliver premium-level care and deliver care most cost-effectively.” Bezucha said he hopes to receive approval for a master renovation plan later this year from the Marathon County Board and break ground on construction in 2014.

Mount View receives $1.7 million a year from county taxpayers to operate the nursing home, but Bezucha wants to reduce the center’s dependency on county taxes with the renovations. He won’t ask for more money from the county to help cover the cost of construction, hopes to keep patient billing rates at the market rate and plans to use Medicaid reimbursements, which could increase for Mount View Care Center once upgrades are made, to help finance the project. Bezucha said he does not yet have cost estimates for the project.

The long-term care and dementia units, specifically, need a face lift, said Lori Koeppel, a senior executive for Mount View Care Center. The long-term care unit, for example, houses patients who stay months or years at the center but offers only double-occupancy rooms. Dining crews, nurses and caretakers spend their days hustling from one end of the nursing home to another because the rooms are spread out over long hallways and the dementia and long-term care units are far from one another, Koeppel said. “The location and size makes operating the unit difficult,” she said. Koeppel is unsure what specific designs or new technology the health care center will pursue for the nursing home because she wants to get information and ideas from patients, employees and Marathon County residents before making any decisions.

Marcia Innis, a volunteer at North Central Health Care who works with dementia patients, is one of the leaders who will sit on the organization’s Master Facility Planning Committee. She wants to research what type of technology can be brought into the center during renovations. “Is this the best we can do to serve them?” Innis said. “There must be something newer out there.”

North Central Health Care will conduct a number of forums during the next few months for members of the public, the nursing home’s 425 employees and roughly 250 patients to learn what type of upgrades should be made to the nursing home, Koeppel said. “It’s so important that we get involvement from the individuals that live here,” she said.