Pioneer Place must submit new application to secure county Covid relief funds

Pioneer Place, a care facility in Vale, seeks $750,000 in federal Covid funds from the county. (The Enterprise/FILE)

VALE – Pioneer Place officials must re-apply again for a chance to capture a large infusion of cash from Malheur County to offset unforeseen costs incurred during the Covid pandemic.

Pioneer Place officials last week handed the Malheur County Court a revised application for $750,000 in American Rescue Plan Act funds but elected leaders declined the submission because of an incorrect date. The American Rescue Plan Act is a $1.9 trillion economic stimulus edict passed by Congress in 2021 that provides relief to states impacted by the Covid pandemic.

“They have to redo their application. That is where we are at now,” said Dan Joyce, Malheur County judge.

Joyce said, though, that for the most part the application looked “really legit.”

“Once they get it fixed, I think we will move forward,” said Joyce.

John Nalivika, a Pioneer Place board member, said facility officials have applied to the county for the money four times.

“I guess we will go back and do it a fifth time,” said Nalivika.

Pioneer Nursing Home Health District was created in 1975 and in the 1990s local voters approved a bond measure that financed the construction of the facility.

The June 8 county court session was the second time since January the local nursing home pursued funding from the county.

The public-owned facility approached the county commissioners in February to get $900,000 of the American Rescue Plan funds, but the court took no action. In May, Joyce said the request from Pioneer Place probably wasn’t eligible for the federal funds. The county pushed the request from the facility to U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden’s office.

At the June 8 session, Dennis Buttice, chair of the Pioneer Place Board, handed the court a three-page document that revealed in detail how the facility’s application was eligible for $750,000 in federal funds.

Pioneer Place plans to use the money for such actions as Covid testing, medical and personal protective equipment.

Federal rules also allow the money to be used to support “prevention, mitigation or other services in congregate living facilities, public facilities and schools,” according to the memo.

Pioneer Place is a congregate living facility.

The memo described Pioneer Place Nursing Home Health District as “providing a bridge in a gap of health services to those who are financially disadvantaged, elderly and fall short in others willing to care for them.”

“As an essential part of our county and surrounding counties, we are hoping that the county will greatly consider extending the requested ARPA funds to Pioneer Nursing Home Health District to assist in the recovery and continuing efforts to battle the impact of COVID-19,” said the memo.

The initial funding request from Pioneer Place was triggered after the nursing home experienced a significant drop in clients last year. While the assisted living census – the number of patients processed into the facility – remained steady, the number of clients in the nursing home, or skilled nursing side, dropped well below what was needed to cover costs.

In January, the skilled nursing census was 14. Capacity at Pioneer Place is about 29 people in the assisted living portion of the facility and 26 in the skilled nursing portion.

To offset the losses, Pioneer Place drained its emergency fund of $300,000 and secured $75,000 from a building fund, according to records from the facility that were shared with commissioners.

In May, John Nalivika, a Pioneer Place board member, said conditions with the facility’s census was improved slightly.

Nalivka said then the facility was “able to get our census to 26 on the assisted living side and 21 on the skilled nursing side.”

“I think we will get our heads together and see what we need to do,” said Nalivika.

Joyce did not have a timeline regarding when the new application would be submitted.

News tip? Contact reporter Pat Caldwell at [email protected].

Previous coverage:

Vale nursing home seeks big infusion of cash from county

Pioneer Place finances show improvement even as bailout request to the county remains in limbo

Vale long-term care center gets new administrator

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