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Cheshire commissioners to gather public opinion on county nursing home plans

KEENE — Cheshire County Commissioners decided on Wednesday to hold a series of public meetings in October to garner public opinion on the future of the county-owned nursing home in Westmoreland.

The dates and locations of the meetings have not been set, but there will be four to five meetings held in the county, said County Commissioner Chairman John Pratt.

Pratt said three options will be floated at the meetings: building a new facility in Keene, renovating the current facility or adopting a wait-and-see approach.

“We’ll try to provide enough information for a range of options that the delegation is considering,” Pratt said.

Renovating Maplewood is estimated to cost $60 million.

In June, County Commissioners voted to accept a report from a county task force that proposes the county construct a new nursing home in Keene to replace the outdated Maplewood Nursing Home in Westmoreland.

The project is expected to cost $30 million, but that could be reduced to $10 million with new market tax credits and other sources of funding, according to Pratt.

“We’re trying to cost that out and get as many good figures as we can,” Pratt said.

The report was compiled by a task force formed to study the 45-year-old facility, which needs a major renovation. The task force decided the county should continue to offer the safety-net for residents who have no or dwindling resources for nursing home care.

However, doing nothing right now will also be considered since the health care landscape is expected to change drastically over the next few years. Medicare and Medicaid funding is changing, he said.

“Funding from the state is already beginning a process of cutting back payments to nursing homes. What’s that going to look like in three or four years? What’s home health care going to look like in three or four years,” Pratt said.

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