Construction is making progress on a new skilled-nursing facility expected to take in county patients atop Greenley Road.
“Everything is going according to plan,” said Kathleen Rustrum, of the Tuolumne County Administrator’s Office. “It’s going to be something to look forward to at the end of the year.”
Construction will likely be complete at the end of September, she said.
Plans call for the project — an addition of the 120-bed Avalon Care Center at 19929 Greenley Road — to serve county skilled nursing clients now housed in the campus of the former county hospital in Sonora.
Avalon has already begun the transition, Rustrum noted, by taking over management of the dietary-side of the county’s skilled-nursing unit.
As part of a memorandum of understanding with the county signed in 2008, Salt Lake City-based Avalon agreed to build a 90- to 120-bed facility and take in the patients residing in the 42-bed long-term care wing of the county-run program when the new facility opens.
Patients in the wing are generally elderly or in ill health and need skilled-nursing care.
The transition of the county’s program to a private provider was mandated by a resolution passed by Tuolumne County supervisors in April 2007 that called for the gradual closure of all acute and primary care operations at the Tuolumne General Medical Facility (formerly Tuolumne General Hospital).
The vote to close was due to the rising cost of health care. The move is also in line with a county budgetary directive resulting from the down economy to eliminate certain non-mandated services the private sector can provide.
The Avalon Care Center will contain an extra 30,000 square feet, 92 new beds, an expanded kitchen and laundry facility, more physical therapy space, and a bigger parking area when the work is done, according to Jim Todd of California Gold, which is the general contractor for the project.
Plans initially called for California Gold to have an ownership stake in the building, but, Rustrum said, state regulations governing nursing homes resulted in Avalon retaining ownership.
The county’s long-term care patients will be offered beds at the new Avalon facility, and the county’s long-term nursing employees have been offered employment as well.
Avalon’s facility is approximately a mile away from the county’s, which will make the transition easier for patients, who are often in frail condition, county officials point out.