SOUTH BEND — The board that oversees and ensures the future of Portage Manor, a historic and stately residential health care center in northwest South Bend, is signaling the facility could shut down without a $25 million to $32 million long-term investment from St. Joseph County.
Failing to get the money, board members say, would mean Portage Manor needs to determine where its 116 tenants — most of whom are adults with disabilities — will live.
“Frankly, half of the people at Portage Manor, I would guess, would be homeless without Portage Manor,” said Mike Misch, who’s now the county attorney but previously served as vice president of the board of managers, last fall.
Because the Manor has lost $2 million in cash reserves since December 2012, its Board of Managers says it needs the St. Joseph County Council to agree later this month to invest millions in a new facility.
The hope is the facility would become financially self-sustaining because it could house more residents and garner Medicaid funding, which entails at least $21 more per person a day than the state Residential Care Assistance Program. The current building, finished in 1907, would need to meet requirements of the American with Disabilities Act and has been deemed too costly to bring into compliance.
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The scramble to avoid a shutdown was complicated after the director of five years left in September and the facility was left without an administrator licensed by the Indiana State Department of Health.
The newest administrator, Christine Hinz, was chosen in January to lead Portage Manor, despite being unlicensed.
Of the 14 people they interviewed to replace the former director, Misch said one had a license and was offered the position. But that candidate turned it down, and Hinz was otherwise qualified to do the work.
Frank Fotia, a county employee who is vice president of the Board of Managers, conceded that board members didn’t think it would take roughly six months for her to earn a license once she found a job-shadowing program. He declined to comment on how long the board expected the process to last.
Regardless, Portage Manor has been violating Indiana code for nearly eight months by …….