EXETER, N.H. (AP) – Several dozen nursing home residents were transferred Monday from Belknap to Rockingham County because of problems with the roof at county nursing home in Laconia.

Arriving by ambulance, bus and car, the 34 Belknap residents got a warm greeting at the Rockingham County Nursing Home in Exeter.

“Rockingham welcomed them with coffee, tea and cookies,” said Belknap Home Administrator Karen Painter.

Several bedridden residents made the 1-1/2 hour trip by ambulance. Others rode in buses equipped to carry wheelchairs and some traveled in private cars with a sheriff’s escort, Painter said.

Major flaws were discovered in the roof in Laconia after it began leaking early this year, County Commissioner Christopher Boothby said.

The county plans to replace the roof, for about $2.8 million, and during the six-month project due to begin this summer, the residents will live in Exeter. Staffers will commute to Exeter to take care of them.

The Exeter home has a vacant wing because of the shortage of nurses, Boothby explained.

Expansion and renovation of the nursing home began in 1996 and was completed in November 1998. According to documents filed by the county in Belknap County Superior Court, questions arose during construction about wooden trusses that would support the roof.

JSN Associates, an engineering firm from Portsmouth, reported in early 1998 that repairs were adequate and “with certain modifications” the trusses would be made structurally sound.

A negligence lawsuit the county filed against JSN alleges the contractor made the modifications that JSN specified, but that the trusses have been found to be structurally unsound and out of compliance with the project specifications.

The deficiencies, the county said, compromise “the structural integrity of the nursing home and related structures and the safety of their occupants.”

The suit claims JSN failed to identify flaws that ultimately caused the trusses to fail.


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