The county council will vote on new electric HVAC systems for the county's nursing home |  local news

The county council will vote on new electric HVAC systems for the county’s nursing home | local news

Monticello — The Bayat County Council will decide on June 8 whether to spend some money from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) to upgrade the electrical system in the county nursing home.

“The electrical service is not up to the code,” said Scott Porter, director of the Beatt County Nursing Home, while speaking to the county finance committee last week. “It hasn’t been up to the code since 1969 when it was introduced, however, as things change, the electrical system is new to it.”

Porter said that in June 2017, a garbage truck collided with a power line on Route 10 and the facility was out of power for 3.5 hours. The maximum temperature that day was 89 degrees, and as the assistant manager at the time, he was among the officials nervous as the temperature in the facility was soaring.

The nursing home’s generators were unable to connect to the air conditioning unit.

The doors to the adjacent building that had air conditioning opened, slowing the temperature rise, but regulations from the Illinois Department of Public Health state that the building can’t get above 80 degrees or more for more than an hour or else it will. required for evacuation.

“If we did, the logistical nightmare of moving 77 residents with significant health needs and without our equipment would be horrific,” he said. “The alternator is unable to meet our needs during a power outage.”

While the power is now out, the current generator will power the boilers, freezers, and food coolers in the kitchen, lights in the hall and perhaps one outlet per room and a few other outlets throughout the building.

“So when the electricity goes out, to run the oxygen concentrators, to run the CPAP machines, to run the suction machines, we have to run air mattresses for people with injuries, we have to run the extension cords,” he said. “We’re good at it, but when the power goes out, we have problems.”

Davis Scholarship

A grant from the office of US Representative Rodney Davis will provide a nursing home with $215,000 to help get a new generator, but to bring the nursing home back into code and replace the electrical system, it will cost an estimated additional $402,000.

Without the upgrade, a power outage that could last more than several hours, would force the nursing home to evacuate residents to another location.

“We already have contingency plans in place, however, and it will be a daunting task,” Porter said. “We’ve never had to do that.”

Of the 77 residents of the nursing home, Porter said, only six are able to walk on their own. He added that a small minority of the rest can walk with assistance, but most require assistance even when leaving their bed.

“If you think about how much manpower it would take to move this many people with their concerns regarding oxygen and condensate, if we can avoid that scenario, it’s imperative that we do,” he said. “I have been monitoring this project since I took over in 2017… With Covid and the financial situation we have been through, there was no way to do that.”

The county can pay for upgrades with ARPA funds.

“I know the board of directors is always faced with very difficult decisions, there are always more projects than money,” he added. “However, the American Recovery Act money was to help mitigate Covid and I don’t know there is anyone in this room and all departments of the county, who could argue the fact that the nursing home has been affected more by Covid. Wearing (personal protective equipment) than Head to toe for hours at a time, the lack of employees who can’t work in an environment like this, illnesses, and deaths frankly. It’s had a huge impact in the past few years.”

Dozens of residents have died with Covid during the pandemic.

“This is a project that needs to be done because the consequences are dire if we have an emergency situation,” he said.

Porter discussed the project with county administrative advisor Dustin Harmon of Belweather.

Harmon told the committee, “This item has a lot of value, but it carries a great deal of weight against the total ARPA money. I think this is something that should be taken very seriously.”

County engineer Eric Sebring also supported the plan.

“With my limited knowledge of electricity, I’d say he’s in trouble if something happens,” Sebring said.

The Finance Committee recommended that the project be discussed with the entire Board of Directors at its June 8 meeting.

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