Actions are being taken to update Story County Medical Center’s senior care facility in Nevada in order to keep it open.

During their regular meeting Monday night, the Story County Medical Center (SCMC) board of trustees approved plans to rehabilitate the existing elevator at the facility at a cost of up to $72,000, pending the receipt of a second bid and confirmation of all of the details. The elevator is the only one at the facility suitable for use by staff members, residents and residents’ families. Due to the age of the elevator, it is prone to breakdowns and the parts needed to repair it are not always easy to find.

Vern Shepard, SCMC building and grounds representative, said there are three options for solving the elevator issue at the senior care facility. The first of those options is to rehabilitate the elevator, at a cost of approximately $54,000. It would take approximately three weeks to complete the rehabilitation.

The second option would shorten the time the elevator is out of service due to renovations. To speed up the process, an additional $18,000 would be added to the first option, bringing the total cost to $72,000.

Putting an elevator in the north elevator shaft is the third option Shepard presented to the board. The shaft currently does not have an elevator car. Shepard said one of the challenges of this option is the shaft is on the opposite side of the building from the main entrance, which would cause visitors to have to walk through the building in order to access the elevator. Another challenge is the project would take five months to complete, during which there would be no guarantee problems would not arise with the current elevator, making it temporarily unavailable for use.

"If we put a new one in and the old one goes down, we could do what we’ve been doing and keep limping it (the old one) along," said board member Liz Hertz.

So far, the only bid Shepard has received for the project has come from Schumacher Elevator Company of Denver, Iowa, in the amount of $71,090. Schumacher would renovate the existing elevator in one week, but could not begin work until Sept. 1. Shepard said the start date is due to a 12-week wait, during which the contractor will talk with an architect about the project. Shepard said he does not think an architect will be needed for the renovation, so the start date could possibly be moved up to sometime in August. Otis Elevator Company of Des Moines has also shown interest in the renovation, but has yet to submit a bid.

Beth Rehbein, administrative director of Senior Care Services, outlined a plan staff members had set up in the event of the elevator being out of service for approximately one week due to the renovations. Those plans include notifying families of residents in advance of the closure, having supplies on hand in the event of an emergency to evacuate residents who cannot be transported down the stairs very well, hiring temporary staff to carry items up and down the stairs and catering food to make serving lunch and dinner easier on staff. Rehbein said the temporary staff would cost upwards of $4,000 during one week of closure, and the catered meals would cost upwards of $6,000. A cold breakfast would be served using food the senior care facility purchases - it would not be catered.

Board member Gaylan Scofield asked what the plans would be for residents who have special diets the caterer may not be able to meet.

"We would set up modifications in the dining room for those with special diets, just like we do for special events," Rehbein replied.

After hearing how the staff would handle a week-long closure of the elevator, Scofield said he was in favor of the rehabilitation.

"It’s very doable," Scofield said of the plans for the elevator closure during rehabilitation. "We certainly woudn’t want to do it for six months."

Sprinkler system at senior care facility

An update on the installation of fire sprinklers at the facility was also given during the meeting. Currently, no sprinkler system exists at the facility and the facility is required by the state fire marshall to have one installed by Aug. 13.

Midwest Automatic Fire Sprinkler Company visited the facility April 12 to determine the layout for the sprinkler system. They will submit drawings to the state fire marshall before the system will be installed. According to SCMC’s April Senior Care Update, the installation process will begin in late June and last approximately three weeks. The installation process will cause minimal disruption to residents and staff at the facility.

Mammography unit

Also discussed at the meeting was a mobile mammography unit that will be coming to SCMC. The first appointments have been scheduled for May 14. Funds raised to bring the unit to the hospital came from a ball hosted by the SCMC Foundation Board. The unit will not cost SCMC anything, nor will it bring additional revenue to the facility. Tiffany Wingert, director of communications and development, said the purpose of having the unit at SCMC is to offer mammography services closer to home for residents in eastern Story County.

The next board of trustees meeting will be Monday, May 21, at 7:30 a.m. in the South Campus Board Room.