Strafford County Nursing Home Project – County Commissioner’s Letter

   November 2, 2022

Three of the current Strafford County Commissioners’ top priorities for building a new nursing home are:

  • A sound plan that addresses seniors in need of nursing home care, assisted living and home-based care for the next 50 years
  • Allows seniors to age with dignity and grace
  • Honors current municipal tax caps

Despite nearly unanimous support to replace Riverside Rest Home with a modern cost-effective facility, our opponents in the Commissioners’ race want to wait to begin the project. One opponent who wants to “hit the brakes hard” on the project has never attended a meeting where the new facility was discussed. In addition, despite an open invitation, two of our opponents have never toured the current Riverside Rest Home to view its physical deficiencies.

Let us be clear, Riverside provides great care to its residents. This is done despite the physical inadequacies of the building and is attributable to the wonderful staff. Four residents using one bathroom and forty-two residents using one tub room is not only wrong on its surface but creates staffing inefficiencies as they are forced to “workaround” the poor design. One of our opponents is well aware of the efficiencies of one-person rooms with their own bathroom as he briefly worked for our neighboring Carroll County which has a nursing home with that design.

With a new nursing home comes the pledge that payments for it will not exceed Strafford County cities’ tax caps, as the county has been under the tax caps for 13 consecutive years. In addition, the new nursing home will provide space in the old facility for the housing-unstable, not just for those fighting addiction. This plan, supported by the three mayors of Dover, Somersworth, and Rochester received unanimous support from the Dover City Council. One of our opponents, a member of that council was conspicuously absent when the presentation was made.

The new nursing home will also provide services to keep people at home to delay or cancel nursing home placement. With the aging of Strafford County’s population, we cannot afford to provide a nursing home bed for everyone who will need one in the future. We must start now to capitalize on programs to keep people at home with adequate and safe services.

The tax cap pledge we have made is the same pledge we made and have kept during the bond payments for the Strafford County House of Corrections. In fact, in the last five years, Strafford County House of Corrections has generated $40,066,445 in boarding revenue used to offset county taxes. We have managed our inmate population to allow for using available space to generate revenue by renting available space out for boarding of Federal prisoners. We kept that pledge then and managed an appropriate inmate population and we will do it again with the sick and elderly.

Let us work together, Democrat and Republican, and get the new nursing home built to manage Strafford County’s elderly Medicaid and homeless population.