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New Owner for Oakville?

County considers its options for 83-year-old nursing facility.

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Shelby County government put its long-term health-care facility on the market Friday, seeking to find a new owner for residents at 3391 Old Getwell Road.

Selling the Oakville Health Care Center is one option being considered by the county, said spokesperson Susan Adler Thorp. "Keep in mind that the main driving force behind the decision is the quality of care for the patient," she said. "[The county] is still a distance away from a decision, and ... the final decision rests with the County Commission."

Proposals are being taken for the facility until March 17th. So what's the going rate for a 237-bed, skilled-nursing facility? "There is no going rate," said Thorp. "We're just taking offers." No offers had been made as of press time.

Options include finding a private group to manage the facility, transferring some or all its beds to the Medical Center, closing the facility, or continuing its current operation by the county. Oakville's operating budget is $12 million per year, with $9 million of generated revenue, leaving the county to pay the $3 million deficit.

In addition to rising health-care costs, Oakville has also received negative publicity for its ongoing legal battles with patients and its most recent state evaluation citing 10 deficiencies. That number was two above the average of other Tennessee facilities and three above the country average. Officials at the state's Department of Health Care Facilities said the hospital has since rectified those deficiencies and has remained in good standing since a surprise visit to the facility in January.

Relocating some of the facility's beds would include moving the patients to the former UT-Bowld Hospital, said Thorp, which would provide that university with a skilled nursing facility for its students. The county has also been meeting with administrators of the Regional Medical Center (The Med) to streamline senior services in the community. While many patients from Oakville are treated at that hospital, and vice versa, relocating the patients to The Med is not an option.

"The Med itself has no unit that would be appropriate for long-term care," said hospital spokesperson Sandy Snell. "Also, The Med doesn't have a license to operate a skilled nursing facility like Oakville."

Two years ago, Oakville nurses picketed when talks arose about closing the facility. "In these times of tightened budgets, that $3 million is tough for the county to pay," said Thorp.

Oakville negotiations are just part of a countywide efficiency study expected to be completed in a few months.

E-mail: jdavis@memphisflyer.com

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