The People’s Tribune

Tri-County Care Center May Have a Potential Buyer

by Brice Chandler – Editor

Five days after announcing the facility would close its doors, Tri-County Care Center may possibly be taken over by Baptist Homes and Health Care Ministries out of Jefferson City. The organization has facilities in Ironton, Ashland, Chillicothe, Independence, and Ozark, Missouri.

Representatives from Baptist Homes expressed to the audience after the meeting ended that they believed a deal could be struck.

The possibility of a new potential owner came after a whirlwind week and half for the Vandalia nursing home’s staff and residents.

On July 25, Board President, Connie Hesse, told the Tribune the facility’s board and staff were doing everything the could to keep the home open. She explained that Audrain County Presiding Commissioner, Alan Winders, had approached them suggesting that the City of Vandalia might be able to utilize unused ARPA (American Rescue Plan Act) funds from the COVID-19 pandemic to help the nursing home remain afloat.

On July 27, Vandalia’s city aldermen held a special meeting to discuss whether to allocate $90,000 to TCCC as suggested by Vandalia’s City Administrator, Darren Berry.

The motion failed to gain traction and a second with the council after a lengthy discussion and after TCCC officials said they were uncertain if there would be enough money to cover payroll and expenses in September.

They would remain uncertain until the state returned for a follow-up CMS inspection in which TCCC had over 200 deficiencies.

Two days later, on July 29, TCCC Board of Directors announced the facility would temporarily close by the end of August unless a buyer was found to purchase the home.

Five days after that meeting on Aug. 3, the TCCC Board held a special closed session meeting with County Commissioner Winders and former administrator Penny Kampeter to speak with representatives of Baptist Homes and Health Care Ministries.

After the meeting opened back up to the public, Hesse was joined by members of Baptist Home’s representatives.

“On Monday, we were doing the 30-day transfer plan as required by the state,” Hesse explained. “Today we were going to meet with residents and staff to tell them the plan has been activated. The good news is we have had a glimmer of hope and I would like to introduce you to some of the people from Baptist Homes. They contacted us and said they would like to offer a proposal today. We did not enter into a lease management or purchase agreement. We just talked. They have steps to go through as do we. The next step is, they would like for as many residents and staff as possible to remain here with the short time frame we have. They are going to meet with their board on Friday, Aug 5. If their board approves moving forward knowing our financial survey results and staffing issues, then they will move forward with making an agreement that we are comfortable with.”

She continued by saying TCCC still has the state survey deficiencies to correct and are currently working on those.

“Are we hopeful?” she continued. “Yes. Have we entered into a legal agreement? We have not. At this time, do we have an answer? We do not. Do we have hope? We do.”

Hesse introduced members of Baptist Homes’ team of representatives to residents and staff in the audience.

“I know that there is some fear and uncertainty about what is going on,” David Sundeen, VP for Organizational Culture and Care at Baptist Homes said. “I wish I had some answers for you but once Friday comes around we will. On two things, Baptist Homes has been around for 100 years now. We are growing but we have a purpose statement that is rather unique in health care. Baptist homes is a religious organization. We exist to please God and help others do the same. If we decide this is what god wants us to do and come in, then this place is not going to close in 30-days.”

“Our intention is not to come in tomorrow and move everyone out the next day,” Andy Braams, VP of Operations at Baptist Homes added. “This is not us taking over, this is a partnership with the staff and residents, but ultimately the community. If we come in, we would love to make inroads to the community here in Vandalia.”

When asked if the deal was contingent on whether TCCC passed the state inspection.

“No, it will not,” Brandy Parker, VP for Healthcare Administration at Baptist Homes answered. “I do not see anything on the survey that is not passable, but it will take a team to do it. As far as I’m concerned from the health care side, no.”

“But there is an interest to get it done by Sept 2. That’s an important date to get those things taken care of when the state reevaluates so that we don’t lose an opportunity with them that isn’t necessary,” Braams added. “I can’t promise you a date when the deal would be made, but it will be done as soon as possible for the parties involved.”

Hesse explained reiterated the idea that Baptist homes would like to retain as many residents still here as possible and would like to bring those who have already left back.

“We hope you’ll give us just a little more time,” Hesse said.

While no contracts were signed and any deal could still be up in the air, the news came as a relief to many who have called the facility home.

The People’s Tribune will continue to report as more information becomes available.

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