Bedford and its nursing home

During the past few days, The News & Advance has run several articles about the Bedford County Nursing Home (BCNH) having a shortage of nurses due, apparently, to compensation that is below current market rates. The county has approved an increase in wages for current staff and authorized an “internal market study to compare current pay ... with the surrounding area.” In the meantime, there is a temporary freeze on admissions until the staffing shortage can be addressed.

All of those actions are quite appropriate considering the situation but miss the real issue: Why does Bedford County own a nursing home? Decades ago, many cities or towns across America owned a nursing home, but that changed about 30 years ago.

Municipal or town governing bodies recognized that owning and operating a nursing home would be a financial drain on tax resources — and that’s what the Bedford County Board of Supervisors is dealing with right now.

I was a licensed nursing home administrator in Virginia for 35 years, retiring as the CEO of Westminster Canterbury in Lynchburg. When I served on Lynchburg City Council, I was also chairman of the finance committee.

Bedford County has a Certificate of Need to operate 90 beds at the Bedford County Nursing Home and that is worth a lot of money! The Board of Supervisors will, hopefully, look at converting an asset that will surely be a continued drain on its resources and convert it into a one-time financial windfall. Depending on building condition and patient mix, it could be worth $50,000 to $100,000 per bed — that translates to between $4.5 million and $9 million.

So, once again, why is Bedford County operating a nursing home?

HUNSDON “H” CARY

Lynchburg

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