The Bedford County Board of Supervisors unanimously adopted a resolution April 25 “to continue to operate the Bedford County Nursing Home as a county-managed facility.”
The move comes after public outcry against the potential sale of the Bedford County Nursing Home to a private, for-profit company.
At a special-called public hearing April 18, more than 20 Bedford County residents signed up to speak against such a move. During the public hearing, Bedford County Administrator Robert Hiss announced the potential buyer, Roanoke-based American HealthCare LLC, had rescinded its offer earlier that afternoon.
The resolution adopted April 25 reads, in part, “…after the potential buyer withdrawing their offer and considering the public comments, it is the in the best interest to not sell the nursing home.”
It was resolved for the county “to continue to maintain the Nursing Home operations in a professional, caring, and efficient manner.”
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At the April 18 public hearing, speakers expressed their concern that the care their loved ones receive at the county-operated nursing home might worsen under a profit-oriented company, and described what felt to many like a lack of transparency from local leadership about the potential sale, causing numerous Bedford County residents to feel blindsided.
Nursing home industry and health care professionals, nursing home residents’ family members, and members of the general public said the nursing home was a “gem” and the county should continue to operate it as it had since its founding as the County Poor Farm in 1831.
District 2 Supervisor Edgar Tuck told the audience during the April 18 public hearing that if everyone wanted the nursing home to continue operating as a county-run facility, the board could use suggestions on how to better manage overseeing such a facility.
Multiple attendees offered on the spot to help advise or establish a committee that could aid in finding solutions.
On April 25, the board discussed this idea of a committee to help manage nursing home operations and relieve some of the burden on them, talking about getting industry professionals on board to offer their expertise. No final decisions were made regarding such a committee, but conversations will continue in the future.
“This is why we have public hearings. The board received impactful comments from the community and that feedback was important to them in their decision-making process. They listened and processed what they heard, ultimately making the decision to keep the nursing home operating as a county department,” Hiss said.
Part of the county’s reasoning for looking to sell the nursing home, Bedford County officials said in a statement on April 14, was because county supervisors were not nursing home administrators, and the industry was growing increasingly complex and stringent in its regulations.
Another reason the board considered selling the county nursing home, the statement said, was the COVID-19 vaccination mandate for the workers there. Such a mandate went against board members’ values and beliefs on personal liberties, the statement said. District 4 supervisor and board chair John Sharp said publicly April 18 that this particular detail was a catalyst in his decision to favor selling the nursing home.
A closed session regarding the Bedford County Nursing Home initially had been scheduled on the April 25 meeting agenda, but was cancelled in favor of adopting the resolution to maintain county operation of the facility.
The county nursing home has a wait list, and due to staffing shortages, Bedford County officials said it is currently operating at two-thirds capacity. The nursing home seeks more employees, particularly LPNs and CNAs. A sign-on bonus incentive was approved several weeks ago by the board of supervisors to support the ongoing hiring efforts.