Voters encouraged to say yes to referendum for new Portage County Health Care Center

Published: Apr. 1, 2022 at 9:48 PM CDT
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STEVENS POINT, Wis. (WSAW) - Supporters of a referendum that would provide $4.5 million to help fund the building and operation of a new Portage County Health Care Center facility held a candlelight vigil Friday to remind voters to go out and vote “yes” on Tuesday.

The Health Center was built in the 1930s and upgraded in the 1970s. Residents have to share bathroom and shower facilities, the HVAC system is inadequate for the building’s needs and staff say the layout isn’t as efficient as it could be.

Still the Center maintains a five-star rating for the services it provides, with long-term care for people who can’t afford a private facility.

“The private sector isn’t interested in taking Medicaid patients because you can’t make any money,” said Save the Portage County Health Care Center site administrator Nancy Roppe.

Health Center Committee Chair Meleesa Johnson’s mother lives at the Center.

“She had a stroke in 2019, and she came here for a short time and she did well in recovery and then she came home and wasn’t able to live on her own. She actually told me she’s not living anywhere else so I better make sure the referendum passes,” Johnson said.

If the referendum passes it would call for a yearly property tax increase of $67.70 per $100,000 of value.

“I think, and I hope the rest of the voters agree with me that this is worth preserving, and we’re willing to spend the money to keep it,” Roppe said.

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