Lakeview Methodist Health Care Center in Fairmont is poised to embark on fundraising campaign for a $15 million capital improvement project.

Lakeview’s board of directors will hear a report Wednesday from a capital campaign manager it hired through the Methodist Foundation. According to Deb Barnes, Lakeview administrator, the campaign manager will reveal the results of a recent feasibility study on the level of donations that can be anticipated from individuals and businesses, as well as what must be done for additional financing.

“We are on board. We are committed,” Barnes said. “We’re not just stopping here and waiting for this project to happen. We’re moving ahead with as many things as we can.”

When Lakeview opened 50 years ago, it was considered a state-of-the-art institution and currently is licensed for 85 beds. The remodeling and construction project will return the facility to that premiere level, Barnes said.

“Yes, the building will look nicer, but the main purpose is the services we will then be able to offer,” she said. “We will have more electronic equipment so staff will have more time to spend with residents. That is what we’re hoping to achieve.”

A physical and occupational therapy suite will aid in the quickest possible recovery after surgery. Shorter hallways will replace long institutional hallways. Double rooms will become single suites. Ceiling-mounted lift equipment will provide a safer mode of patient transfer. Even the method for storing linens will be save time.

One small step toward the upgrades already has taken place with the installation of new software for electronic charting.

“That alone freed up so much staff time. A piece of (patient) information can be entered into the computer once, instead of five to six times in five to six different places,” Barnes said. This cut in half the time used for medication administration.

“All the things that the new building can bring us for service will be amazing,” she said. “There’s a lot of things now that keep our staff busy with processes instead of work with the residents.”

While the main focus of the project will be improvement of the services and amenities for residents, the proposed Lakeview Town Square will enhance more than just the residents’ lives.

“This change would be community-wide,” Barnes said. “That’s what we want our first floor to be – a town square. It would be wonderful if we had a couple of shops and a nice cafe.”

Those features are absent from the western section of Fairmont where Lakeview is located. By including them in the project, it would open the first floor to the public and draw in customers from the area. This would create a sense of “normalcy” and “community” for Lakeview residents, she said.

Barnes hopes to break ground in the spring of 2016. She admits that might be an aggressive timetable due to a proposed property rate change at the legislature next year, which would alter how additional financing is obtained.

Barnes also addressed action this past legislative session that impacted nursing homes. She said lawmakers boasted about providing millions of dollars to nursing homes, but the process remains complicated.

“We receive nothing until January, and then we’ll receive raises based on our 2014 cost report,” she said. “It’s a matter of adjusting to a new rate schedule, what residents pay us will increase. It’s not like a million dollars drops into our lap.”

The new rate schedule will help close the gap from years of underfunding operations, wages and other care-related expenses.

“The rate increase will basically cover the cost of care. It will help to get all nursing homes on more solid footing, but cannot begin to fund a major renovation,” she said.

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