Dubuque Co. supervisors scrutinized over Sunnycrest solution - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Dubuque Co. supervisors scrutinized over Sunnycrest Manor solution

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The Dubuque County board of supervisors is under scrutiny right now for a pending $170,000 contract that had no bid competition.

It's for a consulting group to reform the finances of county-run Sunnycrest Manor, which is regarded as a quality care facility with some troubled finances.

Every year, Sunnycrest spends some $3 million more than what it takes in from Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements, and taxpayers are on the hook for the difference.

With Sunnycrest costing taxpayers an average, collectively, of $8,300 per day over the last six years, supervisors wanted to get a solution rolling as soon as possible.

Dubuque County supervisor Eric Manternach said that's why the supervisors sought out Minneapolis-based consulting company Health Dimensions Group instead of seeking bids. He said HDG came at the recommendation of the Black Hawk County-owned care facility.

"Normally, we do bid everything out we can. We don't just award things, you know, without at least getting competitive bids," Manternach said. "But, in this instance, like I said, with the timeliness of everything and with the narrowness of people that would bid it, we just felt that we were comfortable with this group doing it."

However, Danny Homan, president of the AFSCME Iowa Council 61, the union representing Sunnycrest Workers, said the lack of seeking competitive bids is bad for the county.

"As managers of numerous health care facilities, HDG has a financial interest in recommending outsourcing. Their own website, which contains a pro-outsourcing position paper, demonstrates a clear bias towards outsourcing the operation of public facilities like Sunnycrest Manor," Homan said. "The residents of Sunnycrest and the taxpayers of Dubuque County deserve better."

The Dubuque County supervisors will vote at their Monday evening meeting whether to approve the agreement with Health Dimensions Group. If approved, consultants would begin their work almost immediately. Their proposed timeline includes a final report by late March and six months of on-site work.

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