McHenry County considers adding memory care unit at Valley Hi Nursing Home
Future additions, including new memory and dementia care units, could be coming to Valley Hi Nursing Home, the Woodstock-based, county-run nursing home.
The McHenry County Board passed a resolution in July to begin examining the possibility of adding the services to the facility. A report on the matter is due back to the county board by the end of 2021.
The board is resurrecting a previous 2018 study that found Valley Hi would be able to support adding memory care and dementia units to the facility, which opened in 2008 after voter approval in 2003.
"We put the whole thing on the shelf because of COVID," Valley Hi Administrator Tom Annarella said this week. "There's a new light to bringing this conversation forward, but the conversation has expanded."
Annarella said they are exploring how a memory care unit could be added to the facility, either through renovations of the existing building or by adding on to the building.
He said the 2018 study found Valley Hi was capable of adding a 20- to 30-bed dementia unit to "compliment operations that we have in place."
Annarella said the county has to redo the study because so much has changed in the last three years, including construction and labor costs.
"I wouldn't even have any idea what those costs might be now," he said.
The goal of the latest study is to update the previous reports. The original plans to move forward with the new units were stalled by the pandemic, according to the board.
The county has been able to maintain a surplus on the nursing home's account after the building's construction debt was retired, leading to conversations about the addition of a memory care unit. A 2018 study found construction of a memory care and dementia facility was affordable at Valley Hi thanks to the extra funds in the facility's accounts.
"COVID changed the whole game, but I'm fully confident there is still enough money without having to go out and raise capital," Annarella said.
Valley Hi's account balance is about $28 million and enough to support the additional facilities and keep the account in the black, according to the resolution passed by the county board.
The latest study will update the feasibility of creating the new units in the wake of a pandemic that tightened government-run budgets, Annarella said.
Annarella also said the new study will look at the demand for memory care in McHenry County.
"Just looking at the community, is there still a need for those services? Because of the changing landscape, we need to look at this from a wholistic perspective," he said.
Because Valley Hi is a public facility, it meets a demand other privately run places don't, Annarella said.
"Most true certified dementia units, they will only take private pay. One of the holes in the market that was identified in 2018 was a true unit for Medicaid residents or those that didn't have the means to go to the private facilities," he said.
Annarella said he thinks Valley Hi can fill that need for McHenry County residents who need affordable memory care.