Town Unveils Plans For New Our Island Home Skilled Nursing Facility

Jason Graziadei •

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A rendering of the proposed facility off South Shore Road.

Nantucket is the only municipality in Massachusetts that owns and operates its own nursing home, and on Wednesday the town unveiled plans for the new Our Island Home skilled nursing facility.

The proposed 61,216-square-foot building would be relocated from its current site on East Creek Road overlooking Nantucket Harbor to town-owned land at the Sherburne Commons campus off South Shore Road. It would include 45 single-room beds - sustaining its current capacity for residents - while making significant upgrades that the town believes will improve care, safety, and sustainability.

Following a presentation of the new plans on Wednesday the Select Board voted unanimously to move forward with the concept for Our Island Home, but members indicated they were concerned about the price tag, which is not yet known but expected to be more than $50 million.

"I'm quite impressed, as one who did spend a few years working in a nursing home, I appreciate the difficulty of that environment," Select Board member Malcolm MacNab said. "The obvious questions - it's wonderful, we probably need it - but I'm still waiting for the cost. At some point, we want lots of things sometimes we just can't afford. How I ultimately come down on this is will be what does this cost and does it involve other things we can't do and what's the priority?"

The current Our Island Home facility on East Creek Road was built in 1980 and, according to the town, is “outdated, inefficient and does not meet current best practices for patient care, or current Department of Public Health regulations for nursing support and mechanical systems.”

The potential for a new Our Island Home has been discussed for more than a decade. The new facility will be one of the largest projects ever taken on by the town, but it is one that voters have previously expressed a desire for and one that the Select Board believes is necessary for the town government to sustain.

“What we’re up against is geography,” said Select Board chair Dawn Hill Holdgate, a member of the steering committee for the project. “I don’t foresee any private organization being able to come in and do a facility like this. Our only other option is for people who need this level of care is to go off-island, so that’s what our community needs to wrap their heads around.”

The new facility would be located on the east side of the Sherburne Commons campus, along South Shore Road. It would require the existing Sherburne Commons staff housing units to be moved to make way for the new nursing home.

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In 2022, voters approved an $8.5 million appropriation for the design of the new facility. The budget for the new facility is not yet known. Earlier this year the Select Board voted to proceed with the project on a “construction management at risk” basis, so the estimated cost of the facility will not be known until a general contractor is chosen by the town. But Hill Holdgate said voters should expect it to be a big number given the rise in construction costs.

“Construction costs across the board have increased 100 percent since our last major project, so we’ve got to start thinking that the budget is going to be a lot higher,” Hill Holdgate said. “This is something I’ve been working on for almost a decade now. There’s been a lot of back and forth and input from Sherburne Commons, the neighbors, the staff, the consultants, and the architects. It’s been an extensive project. We’re meeting practically every week.”

The town is conducting a feasibility study to repurpose the existing Our Island Home location on East Creek Road for a new senior center.

Read the town's full presentation by clicking here. 

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