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State shoots down plans for nursing home

Plans for a multi-million-dollar nursing home in the eastern end of the county have come to an end, thanks to the economic recession, the slowness of one government agency in granting assistance and the speed of another in yanking the necessary documentation.

Businessman Ron Lyons had plans to build a $16-million assisted living nursing home and a $15-$20-million retirement community in the Proctorville area.

Right now there is no nursing home in the eastern end of the county. In January 2008 he purchased the certificate of need from the old Pulley’s nursing home that gave him 35 beds he could later transfer to his new facility.

The certificate of need, granted by the Ohio Department of Health, is absolutely essential when opening certain health care facilities in Ohio, particularly nursing homes.

The CON grants a specific number of beds that facility can have. At the time he purchased the CON, Lyons was given two years to open his new facility or reopen the old one.

But then the recession hit and banks became stricter about loaning money.

“The whole thing changed on a dime,” Lyons said. He applied in November 2009 to the U.S. Housing and Urban Development for financial assistance but navigating a government agency takes time.

“The bureaucracy the federal government wants you to jump through is a nightmare,” Lyons said. He applied to the Ohio Department of Health for an extension on his CON. Thursday, he was notified that agency refused to grant his extension request.

With the CON now expired, Lawrence County has simply lost those beds, in spite of market studies that Lyons said proved the beds are needed and would have been used by Lawrence Countians seeking a nursing home for their loved ones.

Lyons said the nursing home would have created 125 or more jobs within 5 years and had a $3 million payroll.

Those are now gone, too, right along with the nursing home beds.

“I’m very disappointed not only for me but for the people of Lawrence County,” Lyons said. “This would have filled a need in that area, and that’s where the growth is in the county.”

Lyons has also lost money in this: he had to pay for that certificate of need and it will not be refunded. He declined to say how much it cost him.

The Lawrence County Commission Thursday approved a resolution in support of the extension. Their resolution was made only hours before Lyons was notified his extension request was rejected. Commissioner Les Boggs said he is disappointed.

“This is just ridiculous and its not even his fault,” Boggs said. “If this had been his fault that would be one thing. I think sometimes the government needs to learn to bend just a little bit.”