Demographics drive talk of Lasata expansion

Study finds that growing population of senior citizens with relatively high incomes could support new facility, benefit bottom line of county campus in Cedarburg

THE LASATA SENIOR LIVING CAMPUS — which includes the recently renovated Lasata Care Center nursing home (pictured), Lasata Heights apartments for independent seniors and the Lasata Crossings assisted living facility ­— may soon include a community-based residential facility that could serve disabled seniors and provide memory care. A new study says there is a potential market for one. Photo by Sam Arendt
By 
DAN BENSON
Ozaukee Press staff

A county-commissioned study concludes there is a market for Ozaukee County to add a community-based residential facility, or CBRF, for seniors 65 or older to its Lasata Care campus in Cedarburg.

County officials have long discussed adding a CBRF to “close the continuum of care circle,” as they put it, at Lasata and its three facilities: 

• The Lasata Care Center, a 136-bed rehabilitation and skilled-care nursing facility.

• Lasata Crossings, a 60-unit Residential Care Apartment Complex assisted living facility.

• Lasata Heights, a 60-unit apartment building for independent seniors over age 62.

A CBRF is defined as a place where five or more people live and where services include room and board, supervision, support services and some nursing care.

Officials say Lasata loses residents because it does not have a CBRF.

According to state law, CBRFs can admit people of advanced age, persons with dementia, developmental disabilities, mental problems, physical disabilities, traumatic brain injury, or the terminally ill, among other things.

A CBRF would provide care for residents between the Heights and Crossing.

“(A CBRF) would give residents a way to stay home,” county Administrator Jason Dzwinel has said. “It will help us continue the mission to keep the nursing home in place.”

The study, which costs about $30,000, is the first official look at whether a CBRF could work at Lasata and any decision to move that direction is down the road, county Administrator Jason Dzwinel said.

The study, prepared by consultant CliftonLarsonAllen reported that many of the other senior facilities examined said they have admitted former Lasata residents because no CBRF exists there.

The study looked at seniors in most of Ozaukee County and parts of eastern Washington County and inventoried existing and planned facilities serving the area, gauging the demand through 2024, which they expect to increase as the Ozaukee County population continues to age.

According to the study, the number of seniors 65 and older stands at 16,545 in 2019, up 3,981, or 32%, since 2000. Another 2,287 people are expected to join that age group in Ozaukee by 2024.  That’s the highest growth rate among all age groups, the report said.

Seniors 75 or older are projected to increase by 407 persons, or 6%, through 2024. 

There are 10 CBRFs already operating in the area with a combined 258 beds, with 95.3% of those beds occupied at the time of the study.

There are nine memory care facilities with 210 beds and 87.6% occupied. Another memory care facility opened earlier this year with 28 beds and had a 25% occupancy when the study was done.

The growth in seniors is higher in the area studied than in the Milwaukee metro area as a whole, plus seniors in Ozaukee County have higher incomes and higher home values than in the overall metro area. Home equity is often tapped to help pay for senior housing.

In addition, some of the existing facilities are dated and in need of renovation, the study said. 

They “would not likely compare favorably to a new building at the existing Lasata campus,” the report said.

There would be a market support for a CBRF, the study concluded, recommending that 10% to 15% of a Lasata CBRF be reserved for memory care.

The study did not take into account two senior housing projects that have been proposed:

• 62 independent living and 28 memory care units being added to the existing Harbor Campus in Port Washington. 

• 40 units of affordable senior apartments, to be called Spring Arbor Apartments, at 900 S. Spring St. in Port Washington. It is tentatively scheduled to open in 2020 but the builder has not yet applied for building permits.

The study also makes note of the rapidly changing industry, including growth in the home health care field as seniors strive to stay in their homes longer; increasing regulation over the industry; changes in Medicare programs; and continued investment to provide affordable housing for seniors.

The authors of the report suggested that once a final concept is developed, a full market feasibility study should be conducted before deciding to proceed with the project.

Dzwinel told members of the county Executive Committee on Monday that the next step is to reach out to an architectural firm to look at locations “and key in some costs.”

He said he doesn’t expect to have anything to present to supervisors until early 2020, he said.

If supervisors decide to add a CBRF, it would continue an approach by the county to provide nursing home care to county residents who rely on Medicaid assistance for low-income or disabled people.

A Medicaid patient at the Lasata Care Center currently costs the county about $150 more than what Medicaid provides, officials say.

About 60% of the care center’s 120 or so residents are Medicaid patients.

To offset that cost, Lasata’s business model calls for drawing more Medicare and private-pay residents at the other two facilities.

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Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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