Benzie Co. Residents Concerned Over Decision to Open The Maples

Many are concerned over a big decision on Tuesday about the future of a nursing care facility in Benzie County.

It was a full house at the Benzie County Board of Commissioners meeting Tuesday morning with everyone there to discuss The Maples facility.

The new building in Frankfort has sat empty for more than two year.

The county taxpayer-funded Maples was supposed to open in September 2014.

But when inspections were done in early 2015, the roof design was not up to code.

Since then, a number of changes have been made and earlier this month the country received a license to operate from the state.

Tuesday morning, county commissioners voted to move people into the new building.

9&10’s Caroline Powers and photojournalist Jeremy Erickson have more details on why many feel this isn’t the right move.

The rooms are furnished, updates have been made, but The Maples new building has sat empty for more than two years. Now, county commissioners say it’s time for people to move in.

“Motion that would request The Maples board move patients into the building with the current occupancy permit that we have and the license we have for Medicare.”

An unanimous decision by Benzie County commissioners has them ready to open The Maples Medical Care Facility in Frankfort.

“We have a waiver free building,” says Roger Griner, chairman of the Benzie County Board of Commissioners. “They have agreed that it’s a safe building. They’re ready to move people in and that’s what we said today.”

But not everyone is on board with their decision.

“You move us into that building, and it’s going to be your conscious if those people soon die,” says Kathleen Gorden.

While the building is approved right now, there’s the possibility of it failing future inspections that could be a big problem.

“We do believe it’s safe, but our point is if you put those people in there, and CMS doesn’t guarantee us a license the next time, without a waiver and we have to move everybody out and put a new roof on, it’s too traumatic for them,” Gorden says.

The Department of Health and Human Services makes the final call on if people move in.

“Consider the taxpayers in this county. The taxpayers and citizens and people that are concerned about the patients in that existing facility.”

Commissioners say they’ll continue to work out the final details and hope to have people moved in in the next two months.