A publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Carespring ready to move forward with Boone County facility

By Mark Hansel

NKyTribune Managing Editor

Boone County is finally poised to get some the nursing and transitional beds it desperately needs.

A ruling from Franklin Circuit Judge Phillip Sheridan cleared the way for Carespring Health Care Center to begin construction on Boonespring Transitional Care Center near Union.

The $25 million, 94,000 square-foot facility will be located on roughly nine acres of land in the 10000 block of U.S. 42 at Whispering Trail.

The official announcement was made Tuesday in the Boone County Fiscal Courtroom in Burlington.

Carespring everybody

State and county officials join Carespring executives to announce the construction of the Boonespring Transitional Care Center

John Muller, executive vice president, Carespring, said the project has been eight years in the making.

“One of the exciting things about tonight is the regionalism and the leadership that has allowed this to happen,” Muller said. “It was really Campbell County and Boone County coming together locally and at the state level that allowed us to be where we are tonight.”

The 143-bed facility is expected to create 200 permanent, skilled jobs for nurses, therapists, dietary aids and administrators. It will also create as many as 200 construction jobs while the project is being developed and generate more than $600,000 in state and local taxes.

Boone County has been underserved with nursing facility beds for its senior population for years.

Population shifts have greatly increased the number of Boone County senior residents. Boone County has more than 11,000 residents that are 65 or older and should add about 10,000 more by 2020. It currently has 317 licensed, long-term care beds.

Even with the new facility, Boone County will have fewer beds per population 65 and older than any other Northern Kentucky County.

Boone County Judge-executive Gary Moore said the zoning is in place and the county is ready to move forward on the project.

“We found with our population doubling since 1990, the need just continues to rise,” Moore said. “Additionally, over 50 percent of the senior population in the eight-county Area Development District has moved to Boone County. We need to provide this service for our people.”

When it comes to providing nursing facility beds in Kentucky, it takes more than just finding a private-sector partner willing to build a facility.

Several years ago Carespring bought 283 bed licenses from Lakeside Nursing Home in Highland Heights, a nursing center in Campbell County that no longer exists.

Currently Campbell County has one nursing facility bed for every 219 people, while Boone County has just one for every 364 people. The plan was to split the bed licenses between the two counties.

“Skilled nursing facilities are part of a continuum,” Muller said. “We believe in home and community-based services and home is best, but there is a time when home is no longer possible and we’re there.”

Carespring completed the Coldspring Transitional Care Center in Campbell County facility in late 2014.

While the need for additional beds in Boone County was clearly identified, the State Health Plan prohibited the move.

State Rep. Dennis Keene, D-Wilder, whose district includes Campbell County, said one of the most frustrating aspects of the delay was that everyone involved agreed the transfer of beds was necessary.

Boone County Judge-executive Gary Moore, left, speaks with County Commissioner Charlie Walton and State Rep. Dennis Keene, D-Wilder, during the announcement for construction of the Boonespring Transitional Care Center

Boone County Judge-executive Gary Moore, left, speaks with County Commissioner Charlie Walton and State Rep. Dennis Keene, D-Wilder, during the announcement for construction of the Boonespring Transitional Care Center

“Campbell County had too many beds and Boone County didn’t have enough beds,” Keene said. “Unfortunately, things that tend to make a lot of sense take the longest time to achieve.”

The Cabinet for Health and Human Services amended the plan last year to allow for the beds to be moved, which seemingly cleared the way for the project.

“It was clearly the will of the Cabinet to make this happen,” Muller said.

The Boone County Fiscal Court also approved the Boonespring project in April.

Baptist Convalescent Center Inc. of Erlanger, however, which does business as the Village Care Center and is a Carespring competitor, filed a lawsuit in an attempt to block the transfer.

The basis for Baptist’s argument was that Carespring should not have been granted the certificate of need required to transfer the bed licenses.

While Baptist Convalescent Care could still appeal Judge Sheridan’s ruling, Carespring plans to move forward with the project.

The Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce has also strongly supported the need for more beds in Boone County. Chamber president Trey Grayson said not only is the county getting the beds, it is getting a first-class facility as well.

“Carespring builds great facilities that are functional and they take good care of people,” Grayson said. “It’s a good product and I think people will want to be there.”

John Muller of Carespring speaks with Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce President Trey Grayson at Tuesday's announcement

John Muller of Carespring speaks with Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce President Trey Grayson at Tuesday’s announcement

State Sen. John Schickel, R-Union, said the additional beds will benefit not only seniors, but their family members who live in Boone County as well.

“One of the things that I love to do when I go out in the community is ask elderly people what made them come to Boone County, because so many have moved here,” Schickel said. “I hear very often that it’s to be near (their) grandchildren. This will just be a way that people who do need these critical services can find them close to home, close to their grandchildren, right here in Boone County.”

Carespring operates 11 facilities in southwestern Ohio and Northern Kentucky, including transitional care centers in Erlanger and Fort Thomas.

If Sheridan’s ruling stands Carespring hopes to be ready to break ground by year’s end and the facility will take about 21 months to complete. The projected opening date for Boonespring is late 2017.

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