The nursing home crisis in Humboldt County triggered by Shlomo Rechnitz’s decision to close three of the five freestanding skilled nursing facilities in the County took a dramatic turn for the better with his November 7th announcement that he had rescinded plans to close two of the three nursing homes. Reportedly, Seaview and Eureka Rehabilitation and Wellness Centers will remain open and only Pacific Rehabilitation and Wellness Center will close. This reversal is very good news for current residents of these facilities, who were facing possible transfers to nursing homes hundreds of miles away. Mr. Rechnitz had seemingly used their lives as bargaining chips while seeking higher Medi-Cal rates for the nursing homes. Senator Mike McGuire described the situation as “a completely avoidable crisis brought on by a billion dollar corporation that has consistently put profits over people.”
Even as the crisis subsided, there were new revelations that the Department of Public Health had given Rockport Healthcare Services permission to close the nursing homes despite the fact the Department never gave Rockport approval to manage the facilities. A Rockport application to manage the nursing homes has been pending since 2014. The Department of Public Health’s failure to protect the residents during this crisis once again raises serious questions about its leadership, mission and priorities. California nursing home residents deserve far better from the agency charged with protecting their rights.