New Columbia care facility aims to bridge gap after hospital stay

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COLUMBIA - Columbia will soon have a new nursing facility to provide people with a place to live and rehabilitate when they need it. 

Indiana-based Mainstreet Property Group is planning to spend $15.7 million on the 70-bed skilled nursing facility on Berrywood Drive. 

"It's gonna be a step down facility for people who no longer need to be in the hospital, but they still need some on-going care," Second Ward Councilman Michael Trapp said.

According to the certificate of need documents, the project is designed for a post-acute care facility to provide "a bridge between hospital and home" for people age 50 and older who live within 20 minutes of the property and "are in need of a strict rehabilitation program."

Boone Hospital Center President Jim Sinek wrote a letter of support for the project saying, "There is a great need for additional facilities for the elderly population in this area."

Rolla Merritt, a resident from Harrisburg, said he always comes to Columbia for medical care, and he believes the new nursing hospital is beneficial for older people in the community. 

"They don't spend enough time, in my opinion, taking care of old people like they should," Merritt said.  

From the application documents, it will be a one floor building with "resort-like features," including a kitchen and private dining room, a large rehabilitation gym, an outdoor rehabilitation courtyard, a movie theater, a game room, a cafe and a pub. All 70 rooms are designed to be private. 

Trapp said hospital care is very expensive, and the new nursing home will help prevent patients from being readmitted to the hospital within 30 days of leaving. 

"You know, insurance companies are not allowing people to stay in the hospital as long as they used to," Trapp said. "So we need those lower cost step down facilities to make sure that people get exactly the amount of care they need."

Trapp said the Columbia City Council approved the request to reduce the overall project size from 270,000 square-feet to 50,000 square feet, which will not generate much traffic and preserve more trees in the area.

"It's a win for the neighborhood because they got a less intensity of use for the land, it's gonna generate less traffic that could happened there," Trapp said. 

He added the project will also create job opportunities, which is part of city's strategic plan. Construction is expected to start next month.