Our View: Nursing home plan cause to celebrate

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The closing of the former Valley View Manor nursing home was a painful example of how we often take things for granted until they're gone.

Now a group of local investors has stepped forward with plans to resurrect an important quality-of-life amenity whose absence disrupted the lives of many families in Moffat County.

If there's a downside to the re-opening of the nursing home, we haven't seen it. The facility will be privately owned by a group of investors who have hand-picked a management company to oversee the care of elderly residents. The home won't be subject to the whims of a major corporation driven by a bottom-line mentality.

Pam Young, spokeswoman for the investment group, speaks as if the purchase was driven by a sense of duty more than by profit potential.

"The outcry of the community was what motivated Lop to pursue trying to get the facility purchased and reopened," Young said.

Veldon "Lop" Behrman, a Sunbeam rancher, is the principle investor. He was bothered that "longtime and homestead residents" had to be relocated out of the community and that 54 people lost their jobs, Young said.

Because the old owner, Mariner Heathcare, decided to close rather than give a new ownership group an opportunity to continue the operation seamlessly, Behrman and his partners are having to jump through many more hoops to get licensed by the state. They're pouring hundreds of thousands of dollars into upgrades to meet state codes.

But they're also creating a comfortable homey atmosphere.

"I've learned through this process that when an individual ends up in a nursing home, it becomes their home," Young said. "I think it's important to make the environment as homey as possible. Our goal is to make it seem like a home setting rather than clinical."

The group closed the deal and started refurbishing the following week.

"We should be done with the major parts of the remodel by mid-May," Young said. "We have to submit plans to the architect and the engineering division with the state. There are some changes we're going to have to make and we're not going to fly through that process."

The group has signed a letter of intent with a management group, but they haven't signed a lease.

"We're very excited about the group," Young said. "They're going to be a tremendous asset to our community."

The owners of the building will have a "business arrangement" with the operator -- the management group, Young said. "We still have a risk at the same level that they have a risk. We still have a financial obligation to make sure that facility is a success. We did whatever we needed to do from the lease end to make it a viable arrangement; to make sure it works for investors and the operator manager."

Young sounds as if the group is committed to making the nursing home a success. A sound operation will provide jobs and peace of mind to the families who choose to place relatives there.

We hope that Moffat County residents will remember the trauma of losing the nursing home and will lend their support to the new operation.

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