Lincoln County Board in the process of hiring a broker to sell Pinecrest

Published: May. 22, 2023 at 5:55 PM CDT
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MERRILL, Wis. (WSAW) - What to do with Pinecrest Nursing Facility has been a discussion in Merrill for more than a year now. In a meeting on May 16th, the Lincoln County Board approved a motion to begin the selling of Pinecrest. Now they’re in the process of hiring a broker.

Don Friske, the Lincoln County Chairperson, adamantly said Pinecrest will remain Pinecrest.

“100% of us agree that we want to continue to have a skilled nursing facility here in Lincoln County,” said Friske.

How exactly Pinecrest will continue is still up in the air. The decision has been made, however, to investigate what a sale would look like.

“We don’t know if there is a market for it. We don’t know if that sale would go through, or if the county board would accept what the market would bear,” said Friske.

Pinecrest has provided skilled nursing care for over 60 years now, but since 2014 the facility has lost millions of dollars. In June 2022, the ad-hoc committee was formed to figure out how to handle the losses and maintenance needed.

“What we’re looking to do is ensure that the skilled nursing facility continues uninterrupted, with the quality care that they’re getting now, that the residents don’t have to move. They’ll stay right where they’re at. Staff will stay right where they’re at,” said Friske.

Nearly two dozen nursing homes have closed in Wisconsin since 2020. This worried Pinecrest residents and staff. However, Friske is certain it won’t close.

“Of course any time you’re looking at change it makes people nervous. And I get that, change is uncomfortable because you don’t know what’s coming. And we don’t have all the answers yet. We’re looking to find those answers,” said Friske.

When making the decision, the board had three options. Close the nursing home, investigate the sale, or go to a referendum to make up losses. The money would then come out of residents’ property taxes. Friske says that this option didn’t come up, so they went the broker route.

“And all those ad-hoc committee meetings are online. You can go back and watch them all. The report that they presented is online and available at the library. So it’s been a very transparent process,” said Friske.

In March of this year, the Lincoln County Board asked Governor Tony Evers for $1.2-million to cover Pinecrest’s losses. They did not receive a response. Friske says they hope to have more information on the broker by the county board meeting on July 18th. Citizens are encouraged to voice their opinions on this topic in public meetings.