Traverse City Record-Eagle

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March 17, 2014

GT Pavilions interested in former health department site

TRAVERSE CITY — Grand Traverse County Pavilions officials are eyeing the county’s former health department building as a possible home for a program that would offer long-term, in-home care services for seniors.

The 18,000-square-foot Garfield Road facility emptied in 2012 when health department officials moved to a new location on LaFrainer Road. It’s been vacant since then, but that could change as officials from the Pavilions, which primarily provides health care and residential services to elderly county residents, consider launching a new service called Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly, or PACE.

PACE is a model for delivering in-home care services to seniors enrolled in Medicaid and Medicare.

Pavilions Administrator and CEO Kory Hansen stated in a memo to county commissioners that programs like PACE are more affordable than traditional nursing home care and more appealing to seniors than institutionalized care.

But Pavilions officials need somewhere to house a PACE center before they can implement the program in Grand Traverse County. The Garfield Road building could fill that need at a lower cost than adding to existing Pavilions’ facilities, Hansen said.

“We toured it and we think it would serve the purpose,” he said. “It’s the right size, and it’s on a main corridor.”

County officials shuttered the facility and put it on the market when the health department relocated. It costs about $12,000 annually to maintain the space, said county facilities management director Danny Brown, though the cost last year was closer to $15,000 because of high heating and parking lot snow plowing bills.

County Administrator Dave Benda said Pavilions officials want the building taken off the market while they determine if the site will work as a PACE center.

“We could sell it outright and make money on it and put it back on the tax rolls,” Benda said. “Conversely, the Pavilions thinks it would meet their needs. If we can help them out, that’s great.”

Benda said the county cannot sell the building to the Pavilions, but the two entities could work out some type of rental agreement. At the moment there are no offers to purchase the building.

The Pavilions would take over the cost of maintaining the building if an agreement is reached, according to Hansen’s memo.

Hansen will update county board members on the proposal during a committee meeting Wednesday.

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