By Debra Moore
Quincy lost its skilled nursing facility in 2015, but if all goes as planned a new one will open its doors in 2025.
The Plumas District Hospital Board of Directors followed the recommendation of its administrative team and approved a resolution to apply for a $31.2 million USDA loan to fund the bulk of the estimated $37.3 million project cost.
The project will consist of a 36-bed, 22,507 square-foot facility set on 3.3 acres across Bucks Lake Road to the southwest of the hospital.
“For it to be cost effective it has to be in this vicinity,” said Chief Executive Officer JoDee Read of the site. Read also described the necessity of building a facility. “We have patients in the hospital right now that can’t leave; there’s nowhere else for them to go,” Read said. She added that people heal and age better when they are closer to home near family and friends. “This is one of the things that I was told needed to be done when I got here three years ago,” she said.
Chief Operating Officer Darren Beatty agreed. “Quality and quantity of life go down when they are away from loved ones,” he said. “Many of our residents have had to move several hours away.” In addition to providing a valuable service, Beatty said that it will provide a financial benefit to the hospital district and “would put us in a good position going forward and expanding services.”
Though the sketches are preliminary, Beatty said the goal is to build the facility in pods, so that the facility would look like cabins from the street. He said the goal is to have “Something you would be comfortable putting someone in. We want to be an anti-institutional facility.”
In addition to the residential wing, there would be a support building to include a kitchen, lobby, meeting rooms, ambulance drop off, emergency generator, and a supply delivery area. It’s being designed so that in the future it could serve the new hospital as well. As for the residential area, it would incorporate a pod-like design with central living space for people to congregate, with bedrooms in the outer corners. Beatty envisions a “small, home-like atmosphere,” where people could visit and watch television. There would also be porches for residences to sit outside.
Work began on this project in 2019 and thus far preliminary design has been completed, a county special use permit issued, a USDA grant obtained and USDA pre-application approval; design build teams interviewed and requests for proposals issued.
June 2022: Award design-build contract
Spring 2023: Complete design
Summer 2023: Building permit issued
Summer 2024: Begin construction
Summer 2025: SNF opens
How are we paying for this?
The district’s financial consultant, Gary Hicks, said that the bulk of the costs will be covered by a USDA loan that is available to entities with less than 20,000 population. The current interest rate is 2.25 percent for 35 years, and the interest rate remains fixed for the life of the loan. There is no prepayment penalty. However, the rate is expected to increase April 1, and is anticipated to be slightly higher at 2.5 percent. “They are based on treasury market rates,” Hicks said. The district’s revenues will be used to secure the loan.
The interest rate will be determined on the date of commitment from the USDA. Director John Kimmel asked when that would occur. Hicks said the process takes 2 to 3 months once the application is received, and he anticipated that the application could be submitted in a couple of weeks.
Other revenue sources include a $1 million USDA grant, $1.5 million from Measure A funds, $1.1 million from district operations and a municipal lease of $2.5 million. The municipal lease is to pay for equipment, which will be used to secure the funds.
Board and public weigh in
Director Kimmel said that former hospital director Ken Shea was passionate about skilled nursing, and that the hospital had considered pursuing a skilled nursing facility even when the other Quincy facility was still operational. “This has been thought out and discussed for a long, long time,” he said. He described it as “probably one of the most asked about and needed” facilities, “so it’s kind of exciting to go down that road.”
Kimmel said that spending $38 million is a huge amount to consider, “but to the best of our reasoning it seems like it’s very doable and will actually help the hospital in the future and serve the community. He added, “While this program (the USDA loan program) is in place, it seems like the prudent thing to do especially when we aren’t dipping into the taxpayers’ pockets.”
His fellow board member, Bill Wickman agreed. “This is something that has been desired by the community ever since the prior skilled nursing closed,” he said and thanked Read, Beatty and Chief Financial Officer Caleb Johnson for their work.
A member of the public asked about the ability to recruit and house staff for the facility.
Recruitment and housing will be the biggest challenge,” Read said. “Those are all challenges I am looking forward to solving.”
Director Valerie Flanigan said she was pleased with the opportunity to build something near the hospital and that would be paid for with creative financing.
The board members present voted unanimously to approve the USDA application: Valerie Flanigan, Bill Wickman, John Kimmel and Andrew Ryback. Trustee McNett was attending the Feather River College board meeting, where he is also a trustee.