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State Rejects Plans to Close Three Eureka Nursing Homes
Three Eureka nursing homes operated by companies affiliated with Shlomo Rechnitz submitted proposed closure plans to the Department of Public Health on August 24, 2016, creating fear that large numbers of residents would be transferred to distant nursing homes outside of Humboldt County. The three nursing homes – Eureka Rehabilitation & Wellness Center, Pacific Rehabilitation & Wellness Center and Seaview Rehabilitation & Wellness Center – contain 258 of the 446 freestanding skilled nursing facility beds in Humboldt County.
In a September 8, 2016 letter, the Department of Public Health (DPH) denied the initial plans, citing several problems, including the failure to identify sufficient facilities for relocation of the residents. The DPH letter states: “The submitted closure plan identifies 44 skilled nursing beds that may potentially be available in the community where residents of the above-listed facilities currently reside. However, as of 8/26/16, there were approximately 190 residents identified that would need to be transferred upon closure.”Undeterred, the facilities filed revised closure and relocation plans with DPH on September 13, 2016. Although its letter and plans purport to address the concerns about bed availability, they instead verify that the operators are planning to transfer most of the residents out of Humboldt County to distant facilities, many of which offer substandard care. The revised plans identify 24 nursing homes outside of Humboldt County with available beds. Five of the facilities are in Oregon; the remaining 19 nursing homes are spread across 10 northern California counties.
There is strong opposition to the planned closures from the ombudsman program, legislators, labor organizations, CANHR and the local community.In a September 1, 2016 letter to the Department of Public Health, Joseph Rodrigues, the State Long-Term Care Ombudsman, and Suzi Fregeau, the Ombudsman Program Coordinator in Humboldt County, urged the Department to petition for appointment of receivers to operate the nursing homes and keep them open. Their letter states, “the planned closing of the three nursing homes all at the same time would create a terrible crisis by reducing bed capacity by nearly 60 percent in a community that is already underserved due to an aging population and insufficient alternatives. We are deeply concerned about the probability of transfer trauma that would hurt or kill residents.”
State Senator Mike McGuire urged the Department of Public Health to reject the closure plans and is leading efforts to keep the nursing homes open. His September 6, 2016 letter to the Department states that he has reviewed the plans and is “deeply concerned that they provide no timelines, no detail on the discharge process and no detail on the determination of relocating patients based on distance to family, prior transfer history or mitigation to “transfer trauma” associated with the relocation of the elderly and infirm.”
CANHR, Senator McGuire and Suzi Fregeau also wrote the Department of Public Health urging it to deny the revised closure plans submitted on September 13, 2016.
A September 13, 2016 letter from the National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW) strongly disputed the operators’ justifications for the closures. It joined the ombudsman programs in calling for receivership to prevent the closures.
Local Media Stories on the Closures
Nursing home magnate rocks Humboldt County with plans to close three of the area’s six facilities
Eureka nursing home closure claims draw criticism
Profits over People? Officials scurry to stop skilled nursing closures
State Lawmakers Fighting to Prevent Closures of Local Skilled-Nursing Facilities
What Will Happen to Ma and Pa?
Lies, statistics and the human cost of the proposed skilled nursing closures
State, local ombudsmen urge state to reject ‘catastrophic’ Eureka nursing home closures, Eureka Times-Standard, September 2, 2016Humboldt County nursing homes could face closures, KRCR News, September 7, 2016
McGuire to meet with nursing home stakeholders, Eureka Times-Standard, September 6, 2016
Three Skilled Nursing Facilities May Close, North Coast Journal, August 25, 2016