1/31/08

SEIU in racketeering-style action v. Carlyle unit

A 120-bed nursing and rehabilitation center costing $15 million has been proposed for Salmon Creek (WA), but a public hearing today could affect whether it is approved. HCR Manor Care would like to build the 60,000-square-foot facility at 139th Street and 29th Avenue. The application is being reviewed by the Certificate of Need program through the Washington Department of Health.

The certificate process includes determining the need for the project, the financial feasibility, the quality of care and staffing that will be provided and how the project will affect existing providers. The process, as a rule, does not include a public hearing unless one is requested. In this case, a union of nursing home workers made that request.

SEIU Healthcare 775NW will be testifying against the application at this morning's hearing, according to an e-mail from Adam Glickman, vice president of the union. SEIU contends, among other issues, that there is not a need for new nursing home beds in Clark County and that if there was, "Manor Care is the wrong provider."

That statement stems from questions about the private equity firm The Carlyle Group, which purchased HCR Manor Care in late 2007. SEIU questions the company's long-term plans and experience in the field. Julie Beckert, director of marketing communications with Manor Care, said opposition to the project is surprising.

"We feel that this is a need for the community," Beckert said.

The new facility would employ 150. Construction could begin in the spring if the project is approved, Beckert said, and it would open a year later.

The company has nearly 60,000 employees through a network of 500 nursing and rehabilitation centers, assisted living facilities, outpatient rehabilitation clinics and hospice and home care agencies.

HCR Manor Care operates under the names Heartland, ManorCare Health Services and Arden Courts and was purchased by The Carlyle Group for $6.3 billion in December.

There are eight nursing homes in Clark County, as well as around 240 adult family homes and 25 boarding homes, according to Karen Nidermayer, analyst on the Salmon Creek project for the Certificate of Need program.

She said there is no set formula on how many facilities can operate in an area, but information that is examined includes the capacity and occupancy of existing providers, as well as what types of services are already provided in the community.

Manor Care was approved for the same nursing home project in 2005, Nidermayer said. When a company's ownership changes, as was the case with Manor Care, the Certificate of Need approval does not automatically transfer to the new owners.

"This project does need to stand on its own," Nidermayer said.

The project was submitted for state approval Aug. 30. The application was screened for completeness before the formal review could begin.

Manor Care will have representatives at this morning's meeting, after which the company will have until Feb. 14 to respond and provide rebuttal to any points challenging the project. The state's decision is due by March 31.

Update

Previously: HCR Manor Care of Ohio applied with the state in August to construct a $15 million, 120-bed nursing home in Salmon Creek.

What's new: A public hearing on the application for a certificate of need is set for 8:30 this morning at 1300 Franklin St., Suite 680.

What's next: Manor Care will have until Feb. 14 to rebut any opposing viewpoints, and the state will decide on the project's fate by March 31.

(columbian.com)

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