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Homewood announces plans for new health-care center

August 03, 2007|By ERIN JULIUS

WILLIAMSPORT - Homewood at Williamsport on Friday announced plans to construct a $17 million health-care center.

The new 80-bed nursing home will replace the existing facility, which has 123 nursing beds and 17 assisted-living beds, said Rich Lenehan, executive director of Homewood. The building, which will be at the corner of Virginia Avenue and Governor Lane Boulevard, is expected to be completed in 2009.

The new two-story building will be larger than the existing nursing facility, which was built in the early 1950s, Lenehan said. Rooms in the new building will be double the size of those in the current facility, he said.

The center will have a special care unit for memory and dementia care, an area for short-term rehabilitative care, an in-house physical therapy department and full-service nursing care.

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The new facility also will be in compliance with current Americans with Disabilities Act standards. Bathrooms in the older facility were not up to ADA standards, and Homewood had to obtain waivers, Lenehan said.

"Codes have changed in 50 years," he said.

In preparation for construction, crews cut down trees on Homewood property last week.

Once the health-care center opens, the old building will be torn down, Lenehan said. The board of trustees will decide what to do with that land in the future, he said.

Homewood's board of trustees decided to downsize based on construction costs, a shortage of nursing staff and general trends in elderly care, Lenehan said.

Fewer people choose to live in nursing homes because they take advantage of home health care, Lenehan said. Medicaid reimbursement for nursing home care is too low, and the number of people who would want nursing home care, but can't afford it, is increasing each year, he said.

The current nursing facility is at 98 percent capacity and admits 170 patients per year, Lenehan said. For the last six months before the new center opens, the facility will stop accepting patients so that downsizing is done through attrition, he said.

Homewood at Williamsport is part of Homewood Retirement Centers, which is affiliated with the United Church of Christ, according to its Web site.

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