Nursing home seeks state OK for expansion

NHC Cookeville.
NHC Cookeville.
NHC Cookeville.

COOKEVILLE – An Upper Cumberland nursing home is planning a nearly $5 million project that – if approved by the state – could help address a shortage of beds in Putnam County needed to serve an aging population.

NHC Healthcare has filed a certificate of need (CON) with the Tennessee Health Services and Development Agency to add and renovate rooms – essentially expanding its 41-year-old Cookeville facility located at 815 S. Walnut Ave.

NHC currently has 94 beds. The project would add 10 new rooms, while another 12 rooms would be split, renovated and converted into private rooms, of which the facility currently has none. It will also make room for 2,000 square feet of needed therapy space.

Total cost is estimated at $4.8 million; target completion date is April 2018, subject to Tennessee Department of Health approval. The state will consider the CON request when it meets later this month, Wednesday, Aug. 24.

“The applicant considered several options to this project…the addition of beds was chosen (because) it makes the best use of the existing resources that are available,” said Bruce Duncan, assistant vice president, National HealthCare Corp., of which NHC is affiliated. “NHC has a long history of providing quality long-term care services in Putnam County. The additional beds will help local residents in need of skilled/rehab services to receive those services in their center of choice.”

NHC, which specializes in rehabilitative care for patients over the age of 65, says its licensed bed occupancy rate was 92 percent in 2015 – ranking it highest among four nursing home facilities in the county, although NHC offers the fewest amount of beds. Officials are making the request to meet “expected demand for skilled nursing and rehabilitation services.”

Recent studies show Putnam County needs an additional 166 nursing home beds by 2018. The 65-plus population is expected to increase 7.52 percent in that timeframe.

The proposed project has garnered support from several local leaders and physicians, including Rep. Ryan Williams (R-Cookeville); Cookeville Mayor Ricky Shelton; Dr. Jane Anne Gotcher with Upper Cumberland Family Physicians; Dr. Emilie Riddle, Riddle Family Care; and Putnam County Executive Randy Porter, among others.

“Before being elected to my current position, I served as the Emergency Medical Services director of our county for over 30 years,” Porter wrote. “I saw firsthand the need for more skilled nursing, as the waiting list for this type of care can be very long.”

If approved for 104 beds, NHC projects occupancy at 95.1 percent by 2020. The facility anticipates adding roughly 10 positions to manage the increased capacity, mostly aids, housekeeping staff and licensed practical nurses (LPNs).

The $4.8 million project would be financed by cash reserves via NHC HealthCare Corp. Besides Cookeville, NHC also operates facilities in Smithville, McMinnville and Sparta in the UC.


Liz Engel is the editor of the Upper Cumberland Business Journal. She can be reached at

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