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$14 million project to add rooms, replace mechanicals at DeKalb County Rehab and Nursing Center

August 6, 2018

DeKALB – Although there is a waiting list for admission into the facility, only one unit will be expanded during renovations for the DeKalb County Rehab and Nursing Center.

The expansion planned in the project is for the Medicare transitional care unit, said Bart Becker, administrator for the DeKalb County Rehab and Nursing Center.

Becker said people are waiting to be admitted to other units within the care center, including the dementia care unit. But what the community currently is asking for is more private rooms for transitional care.

“The need is there in all different areas,” Becker said.

The clarification comes after the DeKalb County Public Building commissioners voted unanimously during their July 10 meeting to prioritize changes to the center’s mechanicals to accommodate replacement boilers, a new chiller and an emergency power generator.

That follows the county approving a $14 million bond issue to help fund the nursing home project and the County Board agreeing to a land transfer for the expansion and renovations.

Gary Winschel, who is overseeing the finances of the rehab and nursing center, said those prioritized improvements are designed to help all residents in the building. He said the transitional care unit expansion is meant to accommodate county residents who need rehab through therapy after surgical procedures such as knee or hip replacements.

He said the expansion also will address the need for more rooms for people covered by Medicare. He said the expansion does not include private-pay rooms.

“That’s just part of the payer mix of everything that we have at the nursing home,” Winschel said.

Becker said sometimes people put a loved one on the waiting list for any unit within the nursing home before they need to use the facility as a precaution. When a bed opens up, he said, the center goes down the waiting lists from the county’s 18 townships and might come across people who determine their loved one is doing OK at home and doesn’t need to be admitted.

Becker said it’s difficult to say exactly how much time passes from when someone is put on a waiting list until a bed opens at the nursing center. For those who still are on any waiting list for any of the units at the rehab and nursing center, he said, they need to look at different care options in the meantime if there’s a more immediate need.

Becker said it’s also hard to estimate how many people altogether might be on the waiting lists, making it hard to give an exact count. He said the lists are in a constant flux because of people’s needs at that time and the needs for those people on the lists keep changing.

For example, he said, the rehab center might determine that someone who is on the waiting list for something else might be better served within the dementia care unit.

Becker said there are no plans to add beds to the dementia unit in particular. He said there are 38 beds in the unit for people with public or private health care, which is an appropriate number for the population that lives there.

Becker said the specialized unit is designed in a way where you wouldn’t add beds without looking at what’s safe and appropriate for residents. He said there can’t be too many people in the dementia unit at one time because those patients need a calm environment.

“With 38 folks in that area, it works well for what they need,” Becker said.

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