Tuesday, November 06, 2012
Company proposes new nursing home in Roanoke County
Friendship Retirement Community wants to build a 120-bed facility.
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A desire for private rooms and an interest in having a strong presence in southwest Roanoke County are fueling Friendship Retirement Community's bid to build a new $16.8 million nursing home.
Friendship wants to rezone 10 acres on Starkey Road to accommodate its proposed 120-bed facility. The rezoning application, filed Friday, comes as the nonprofit organization has also asked the state to allow it to reduce the size of its existing facility on Hershberger Road in Roanoke County by moving 120 of its 363 beds to the proposed site.
Moving the beds also would allow for upgrades to the older facility, which was built more than four decades ago and requires most residents to share a room, said Friendship President and CEO Russ Barksdale.
Already the state's largest nursing home provider with a consistent occupancy rate of 95 percent, Friendship is not asking to serve more patients, but instead is seeking to expand into new areas of the Roanoke region. The new facility would fulfill Friendship's interest in moving into the southern part of the county.
The effort comes as Friendship also has made inroads in establishing a presence in Salem. Just last week, Friendship announced it has taken over management of Salem Terrace at Harrogate, a 90-bed independent and assisted living facility, and could ultimately merge the two businesses.
Historically, Barksdale said, 80 percent of Friendship's business came from the north side of the Roanoke Valley. But in the past couple of years, the dynamics have changed for the retirement community, with one-third of residents hailing from the southwest part of the county and one-third coming from Salem, Barksdale said.
"We as leadership, and the board, said, 'Shouldn't we have a presence in those communities from which people are coming to us from?' " he said. "It really is being demand-driven."
On Thursday, Friendship will speak directly to the community, holding a meeting with its would-be Starkey Road neighbors at the South County Library to provide the first look at the plans for the single-story, 68,471-square-foot facility. The 6 p.m. meeting is the first step in Friendship's efforts to persuade the county to change the property's zoning from residential to general commercial.
The first public hearing on the rezoning will not be until January, said Philip Thompson, the county's deputy director of planning. While community meetings are not required, they are often suggested by local government officials as a way to keep citizens apprised of major projects, Thompson said.
Friendship has a contract to purchase the land for $1.85 million, pending approval of the rezoning by the county and the entire project by the state, Barksdale said. That cost is included in the total price tag for the project. Because Virginia law requires providers to obtain a certificate of public need to make changes to nursing homes, the project must be approved by the State Health Commissioner.
That process is under way. In an application filed last month with the state, Friendship points to a shift in its demographics, showing more residents coming from the southwest portions of Roanoke County. Barksdale said one goal of the new facility is to tap into that community interest while being able to keep residents close to their homes.
The new facility will offer long- and short-term care for patients seeking a number of services already offered by Friendship including physical therapy, occupational therapy, Alzheimer's care, cardio rehabilitation and palliative care, according to the application with the state.
If the new facility is approved, Friendship aims to have it open by July 2014. It would have about 120 employees.