Property Donation Requested from PMC or High Plains by Local Group



Jillane Hixson and Loren Brown at PMC Board Meeting

Jillane Hixson and Loren Brown at PMC Board Meeting


The PMC board was approached by Jillane Hixson and Loren Brown, representing a group of interested citizens, requesting that 9.52 acres of land owned by the hospital be donated to establish a nursing home on the site.  In a follow-up to earlier meetings with hospital management on various scenarios for the donation, Hixson explained to the board at large, they were attempting to purchase the Juniper Village Nursing Home located on South 10th Street in Lamar, and build a 60 bed facility on the donated land. Their plans required that just over five acres be dedicated to the facility. Hixson and Brown explained that a public improvement district could be set up within Prowers County with voter’s approval and the facility would operate under a 501c3, non-profit classification.  Hixson said her group is working with a bond underwriter to set in motion, a November ballot for an $11 million bond to cover the costs of the project, minus the purchase price of Juniper Village.  The group has also been in contact with an architect and Frontline Management, a skilled care management firm in Colorado.  Under Medicaid guidelines, the number of nursing home beds is regulated within a district, so the group could not simply build another nursing home, adding to the current number of beds in the community.  Once in operation, Hixson said, the residents at Juniper Village could automatically transfer to the new facility. 

The project is balanced on a number of crucial “ifs” in order to move forward.  The land donation from Prowers Medical Center or another land owner, the sale of Juniper Village and the approval of Prowers County voters to fund the $11 million project through increased property taxes, as well as meeting the Labor Day deadline to place the issue on the November ballot through a petition drive.  Hixson asked basically, “If all the other factors come together, would the PMC board consider a commitment of a land donation for the project?”  The sale of Juniper Village would work through a pre-approved purchase price between both parties and would be contingent on voter approval of the bond in November and to develop a Public Improvement District.  Hixson stated that the property taxes would increase to about $75 a year on a $100,000 home in Lamar, based on a 20 year bond.  Board member Ron Farmer, expressed concerns of having the Prowers County Commissioners approve a District over which the commissioners would be the executive board, but would then approve a second board to oversee the nursing home operation.  He asked if the County could then be held legally responsible for the actions of the nursing home board.  Another director, Julie Branes, said the board would also need to know how the use of the land and the development of a nursing home on the campus would impact the current hospital activities. 

Cindy Longfellow, a National Director of the Juniper Village Communities nursing homes, attended the meeting and said that she personally, had received a letter of interest on the Lamar nursing home from the group only as of that Wednesday afternoon, May 22.  She told the board that to her knowledge, Juniper Village is not for sale and has not been on the market for a number of years.  Longfellow explained that the proposal would not go before her board members for consideration until later in June, and was doubtful if the facility would be placed on the market.   

Board member, Marge Campbell said it sounded like both parties were 50,000 miles apart on the project and she was angered that the board was being mislead down a path with no specific conclusions being offered.  Hixson and Brown said they had been in contact with the nursing home group’s Chief Financial Officer several weeks ago, but nothing conclusive had come from their initial discussion.  Hixson stated her group had been informed by their attorneys that a March listing of properties showed Juniper Village nursing homes in Lamar and in Monte Vista were on the market for a combined asking price of $4.9 million.  Brown said that as of last week, he had been on the phone with Chuck Hastings, the CFO of Juniper Village Communities, to initiate conversation on a potential sale. 

Board chairperson, Candy Ruedeman told Hixson and Brown that the board cannot give an answer this evening.  “We need to discuss the do’s and don’ts of donating the land, how much land you need and an opportunity to discuss the legal issues of a donation with the hospital attorneys as we operate under the direction of the hospital district,” she added, “we need to discuss our responsibilities in that regard.”  

Prowers Medical Center may have plans for some of the land in question.  Earlier this year, the board gave approval to CPI Group, a Denver based company which provides program and project services for healthcare facilities which are planning expansion projects, for design services.  The hospital is considering a $14,598,400 five-part expansion project extending to 2016 to upgrade and/or expand services for Physical Therapy, Clinics and Admitting, Emergency Room, Lab and Surgery departments. 

All current officers of the Prowers Medical Center board of directors maintained their positions for another year, following a unanimous vote on a motion by board member, Ron Farmer.  The vote was an agenda item on the board’s annual meeting.  Attorney John Lefferdink, who has been the hospital’s legal representative for 23 years, was approved for the 2013-2014 year.

Prowers Medical Center property was not the only choice of the group.  Hixson and Brown were joined by Joyce Reedy on Thursday evening, May 23, who made a similar request to the Board of Directors of High Plains Community Health Center.  High Plains has approximately six acres of land which is located along Memorial Drive and south and of the Adult Chronic Care Center on the medical campus.  Essentially the same presentation was made to the High Plains board for development of the 45,000 square foot nursing home project.  Hixson and Brown reiterated at the High Plains meeting that their project in no way reflected on the operation of the Juniper Village nursing home by staff or management.  Their main concern was with the age and accommodations of the facility for the residents.  Hixson said Juniper Village on South 10th Street is at least 70 years old, constructed from barracks which made up part of the Japanese internment complex in Granada, Camp Amache during World War II.  Cindy Longfellow, one of the national directors on the Juniper Village Communities, also attended Thursday’s meeting and stated that the nursing home had been on the market about three years ago, but was not listed at this time.  Juniper Village in Lamar will host a 25th anniversary open house on the evening of June 5.

(Additional Information:)  Statement Release from Jay Brooke, Executive Director of High Plains Community Health Center 

            “The High Plains Community Health Center Board of Directors at their May 23, 2013, meeting passed a motion to authorize Executive Director Jay Brooke to draft a Memorandum of Agreement with the Skilled Care Replacement Facility Committee in regard to donating High Plains land for the facility.  The draft will need to be reviewed by our attorney and approved by the Board.”

Jay Brooke said the donated land measures about five acres and will be adjacent to the Adult Health Center, on the east side of Memorial Drive and extending to the cluster of telephone poles along the roadway.  Hixson said her group was quite happy with the announcement and are now focusing their efforts to set up negotiations with Juniper Village Communities for purchase of their Lamar property.

By Russ Baldwin


Filed Under: BusinessCommissionerscommunityEconomyFeaturedHealthLamarProwers County


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