$4 million project proposed at Pines in Olean

Tammy Schmitt, administrator at the Cattaraugus County Pines Nursing Home in Machias, speaks in favor of a $4 million kitchen and dining project at the Olean Pines at a joint meeting of the County Legislature’s Public Works and Human Services committees Wednesday.

LITTLE VALLEY — Two options were presented Wednesday to construct a new kitchen and additional dining areas at the Pines Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center in Olean.

The price tag for both project options at the nearly 50-year-old Cattaraugus County nursing home is around $4 million, Joseph Kedron, principal architect at Wendel Companies told county lawmakers.

The kitchen facilities are worn out and need to be replaced with a more efficient food handling, preparation and cooking layout.

Kedron said the other important part of the project is to make for a more pleasant dining experience for residents, who must eat in three shifts as the main dining area is limited to 48 seats. Plans call for building a new dining room and enhancing three lounges where some residents eat.

The biggest difference in the two proposals deals with the biggest problem posed by the project: How do you continue to serve 120 meals three times a day during a 15-month construction period?

One plan outlined by Kedron involved additional preparation and cooking at the Pines in Machias and transporting the food to Olean, where it would be reheated.

The second plan, which Kedron said was marginally more expensive, is to provide a mobile kitchen outside the renovation and construction areas. That would shorten the construction period by a month or more and enable the county to maintain the current staff. The temporary kitchen would be in use for up to four months at a cost of about $164,000.

Kedron said plumbing and electrical lines need to be replaced in the kitchen, which has been in use since 1972. Equipment has been replaced as needed over the years.

Equipment for the new kitchen will probably cost $500,000.

The new dining facility will cost another $500,000.

Olean Pines administrator Tammy Reynolds told members of the County Legislature’s Public Works and Human Services committees the food comes in 15-minute waves designed to accommodate the number of residents and dining space limitations.

Sometimes the food gets cold when carts carrying the food trays are delayed, residents say.

Food service at the Pines in Machias is entirely different. It is prepared in a central kitchen and taken to four different dining areas in the facility where it is kept hot on steam tables.

“We would like to make it a better dining experience,” Kedron said. He presented a schedule where construction would start in January 2021. It would probably last up to 15 months.

County Administrator Jack Searles reminded county lawmakers that the Pines’ current food service vendor’s contract expires in the fall. “The physical facility (kitchen) will be built after you select a vendor.”

Searles noted the county would probably borrow the money for construction and be reimbursed through an increase in its daily Medicaid reimbursement rate. The county would front the money and be reimbursed over 15 to 20 years.

The committees will meet in the coming months to decide how to proceed with the kitchen/dining room proposals.

“There are quality of life issues” involved, Reynolds said.

(Contact reporter Rick Miller at rmiller@oleantimesherald.com. Follow him on Twitter, @RMillerOTH)