August 16, 2023 608 PM
ALPINE — In June, the Big Bend Regional Hospital District was presented with the results of a second feasibility study looking into the possibility of bringing a nursing home to Alpine. That second study, which included an in-depth economic assessment of the region, was funded by the hospital district in the wake of an initial study that showed the area may be able to support such a facility by 2026.
Strictly in terms of financial feasibility, the results of the second study were not as clear-cut as district leaders would have liked, Director J.D. Newsom said at the time. The study showed that the majority of the demand in the area was for skilled nursing, rather than assisted living, beds. The majority of skilled nursing beds would be occupied by Medicaid patients, Newsom explained, meaning the facility would receive a lower daily rate.
That doesn’t mean a nursing home is out of the realm of possibility — just that it’s not a financial “slam dunk” in a city where, for the past decade, several efforts to introduce a nursing home have already fallen through. Alpine Valley Care Nursing Home abruptly shuttered due to financial difficulties in 2012, and Alpine has been without a nursing home ever since. Two attempts to fill the void have failed.
“I think the data shows that there is demand,” said Newsom, following the results in June. “I was hoping for a more favorable pay mix, and there’s also a scale that you need to make a facility profitable, and I think that we’re right at the low end.”
Current efforts to bring a nursing home to Alpine are being undertaken by local nonprofit Alpine Community Projects, which aims to use the “Green House” model — clusters of smaller homes housing 10 to 12 individuals each, rather than one larger facility. Now, ACP’s Kirsten Moody said the group is working towards securing a financial modeling tool and accompanying consulting in order to better hone in on the financial realities of opening a facility in Alpine.
“The financial modeling tool will allow us to see — running many different scenarios using various assumptions — exactly what income we’d need to bring in in order to be able to operate skilled nursing and assisted living homes,” said Moody. The system was developed by the Green House Project and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
ACP plans to reach out to the community to help raise the funds necessary for the consulting, said Moody. While the tool itself will cost $2,500, the fee for “unlimited consulting” from the Green House Group to best utilize the tool is a heftier $10,000.
“We’ve held off asking for any funds from the community until we knew exactly what we needed the money for,” said Moody. “In order to move onto the next steps with the nursing home, we need access to solid financial modeling and the consulting advice to go with it. So that’s what we’re asking for now.”