Facility’s millage renewal on ballot

HANCOCK – Houghton County voters will decide Tuesday on whether to renew the six-year operating millage for the Houghton County Medical Care Facility.

If approved, the measure would levy 2.5531 mills in the county from 2016 to 2021. The millage has existed for about 30 years; residents most recently approved it in 2010, with about 70 percent of the vote.

The vote comes as the facility is planning a large building project intended to bring the facility in line with the new movement towards person-centered care.

“The millage, what it’s going to allow us to do, besides shore up our funding, is build up that capital fund again,” said Gerry Jarvey, business manager for the facility. “We’re doing a big project, but it’s not finishing the building. It’s only addressing part of the issues.”

Some space will be repositioned on the ground floor. The project includes expanding the therapy department to provide not just physical therapy, but occupational and speech therapy as well. Sixteen private rooms on the ground floor will be set aside for short-term residents.

Post-acute care is a growing area for the facility, said Tammi Lehto, administrator for the Houghton County Medical Care Facility. Some hospital patients who get surgeries then transfer to the medical care facility and stay for four to six weeks for therapy and skilled nursing services, she said.

“Right now, everybody’s mixed, and we want to create a living environment that suits their needs better,” Lehto said.

Another aspect of the remodel is focusing on a “neighborhood model of care” approach. Instead of an institutionally focused dining program, with meals from a kitchen on the ground floor sent up to residents on trays, there will be a more home-like program taking advantage of the canal overlook, Lehto said.

The south wing on the first floor will be renovated into a private dining space and household kitchen.

“When you’re at home, you wake up and decide when you want to have breakfast rather than breakfast being at a specific time,” Lehto said, “and you’re told when breakfast is. We want to be able to expand our meal times so they’re more conducive to our residents for when they feel like having breakfast, lunch and supper.”

Space is also being rearranged in a “main street” concept. Amenities such as the barber and library will be congregated on the main floor to create the feel of a small neighborhood.

The first floor will also be redone to add capacity to the resident bathrooms, which can be difficult to navigate for residents with wheelchairs, Lehto said. The facility staff is hoping to do a second phase a few years down the road to do the same on the second and third floor.


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