Black Hawk County officials are considering two offers to take over the county-run nursing home. But some community members don’t want the center to be privatized.
The county-run nursing home in Waterloo has struggled to keep up with its costs since Black Hawk County cut its public funding. The center is home to elderly residents and people with persistent mental illness or intellectual disabilities.
Staff member Melissa Lee is worried about how a private company would handle vulnerable residents.
"I don’t think it’s the right choice. I think it’s morally wrong to sell Country View. This is their home. They have nowhere else to go. These people were born with disabilities that they didn’t ask for.” Lee told Black Hawk County Supervisors at a Tuesday meeting.
Country View board member Shirley Mae Patchin says many of the residents don’t have other options.
“We’re taking care of everybody’s family," Patchin said. "There’s a lot of people out there who don’t have family and we’re taking care of them.”
The center relies on federal Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements for its residents and Patchin said those payments aren't keeping up with the center's costs.
In its formal request for proposals, the county outlined requirements meant to protect current residents and employees. According to the RFP, "current residents at Country View shall have the right to remain in the facility as long as they desire", and one of the county’s priorities is "to retain as many of the current Country View Care Center employees as possible".
But that doesn’t satisfy staffers and advocates who want to keep the center publicly-owned and expand its taxpayer support.
"Taxpayers used to pay for it," Patchin said. "I think it's time that we think taxpayers should go back to paying for these people."