- State Unlikely to Block Closure of Local Skilled Nursing Facilities
- Skilled Nursing Homes’ Closure Plan Denied by State Public Health Department … For Now
- State Lawmakers Fighting to Prevent Closures of Local Skilled-Nursing Facilities
Despite efforts from our state representatives, Rockport Healthcare Services has received approval to close three its five local skilled nursing facilities: Eureka Rehabilitation & Wellness Center, Pacific Rehabilitation & Wellness Center and Seaview Rehabilitation & Wellness Center.
Assemblymember Jim Wood called it “devastating news.” Senator Mike McGuire said in a press release, “I’m extremely disappointed and frustrated that our hands have been tied and that Rockport will be allowed to close these facilities – this plan is completely irresponsible.”
McGuire’s press release follows the one immediately below from Wood’s office:
Sacramento – Today Assemblymember Jim Wood received word that the California Department of Public Health has approved Rockport Healthcare Services plan to close three of its five skilled nursing facilities in Humboldt County.
“This is devastating news,” said Assemblymember Jim Wood. “We are beyond disappointed that, after numerous attempts to prevent this closure, Rockport remained steadfast in walking away from more than 200 vulnerable residents and their families.”
Wood says that dozens of meetings, both public and private, with Rockport, elected officials, community stakeholders and Partnership HealthPlan of California (PHC) have been ongoing since Rockport’s original announcement. PHC is the health plan responsible for much of the contracted Medi-Cal coverage in the county, including nursing home services in the North Coast area. “Partnership’s willingness and commitment to find solutions to keep these facilities open has been unprecedented,” said Wood.
Rockport had said its ability to remain financially sustainable has been jeopardized by staffing challenges and a Medi-Cal reimbursement formula that assumes lower operational costs in rural areas, which Rockport has said has not been the experience in Humboldt County. But even after PHC made several generous offers to increase reimbursement rates, the actions of Shlomo Rechnitz, the majority owner in the facilities managed by Rockport, have clearly shown that it was not enough.
“Partnership had been exploring a number of options to keep SNF services in Eureka,” said Liz Gibboney, Partnership’s CEO, “including the potential for PHC to purchase and run one or more of the Eureka Rockport facilities. We inquired with Rockport about the potential asking price of their Eureka buildings and determined the estimated cost was untenable.”
“The fact that Partnership was willing to explore the purchase or management of one or more facilities, but Rockport wanted an unreasonably high amount, is unconscionable, especially since they plan to close them” said Wood. “I just can’t believe it.”
Wood has previously said that although the Department of Public Health may not have the authority to prevent the closure, he is committed to introducing legislation to revisit the criteria for skilled nursing facility closure plans as well as the reimbursement formula for skilled nursing facilities in rural areas.
Here’s the press release from Senator Mike McGuire:
Sacramento, CA – Senator Mike McGuire released the following statement regarding the decision made today that closure and relocation plans submitted by Rockport Healthcare Services for three of its Humboldt County skilled nursing facilities have been accepted by the California Department of Public Health.
“I’m extremely disappointed and frustrated that our hands have been tied and that Rockport will be allowed to close these facilities – this plan is completely irresponsible,” Senator McGuire said. “Rockport’s devastating closure plan is unprecedented – and will impact the lives of patients and their families, putting the health and safety of our most vulnerable residents at risk. We worked hard to bring all sides together and find common sense solutions, but, in the end, we did not have a willing partner in Rockport Healthcare Services.”
Over the last several weeks, Senator McGuire has hosted several meetings in Humboldt County with community members, families, patients, advocates, health care providers and staff of the impacted skilled nursing facilities and will continue his ongoing efforts to find long term options and solutions for skilled nursing facilities in Humboldt County.
Over the next two days, Senator McGuire will again be in Humboldt County working on these issues and in the weeks to come, McGuire will be fighting to ensure patients health and safety is the number one priority.
Note: This post has been updated to include the statement from Senator McGuire.