Yesterday we reported that the California Department of Public Health probably won’t prevent Rockport Healthcare Services from closing three local skilled nursing facilities. That’s still true, according to staff at Assemblymember Jim Wood’s office, but yesterday the state refused to approve the company’s closure plans until it does a better job of mitigating the trauma that’s likely to inflict patients as a result of the closure.

“It’s great news for the time being but it’s a delay, not a solution,” said Paul Ramey, legislative analyst for Assemblymember Wood. Rockport has announced that it intends to close Eureka Rehabilitation & Wellness Center, Pacific Rehabilitation & Wellness Center and Seaview Rehabilitation & Wellness Center, all in or near Eureka.

As part of its closure plan Rockport is required, under federal and state law, to provide for the transfer of patients who will be displaced. “Effectively they didn’t do a good enough job providing for the transition,” Ramey said.

The company has been given a checklist of requirements that it must fulfill before the plan will be approved. If and when Rockport meets those requirements the closure plan can proceed. Ramey said both Wood and Senator Mike McGuire will continue to work with Rockport to make sure patients’ wellbeing is front and center. And he said Wood’s office is encouraged that the Health Department is doing what it can.

ADDENDUM: Below is a statement from Senator Mike McGuire’s office:

“Rockport’s initial plans were dangerous,” Senator McGuire said. “Their proposal put the lives of their patients at risk and was going to leave Humboldt communities vulnerable. We will continue to work with all involved in the months to come to ensure patient safety is the top priority and skilled nursing beds are maintained on the North Coast.” 

Senator McGuire was in Humboldt County Thursday meeting with local Health and Human Services leaders to address this crisis. The working group that has been established is committed to short and long term solutions related to Humboldt County skilled nursing facilities. These would include robust patient safety measures, ensuring skilled nursing beds are readily available to meet community needs, workforce attraction and retention measures and making sure that any reimbursement increases are based on patient care improvements. The working group will now be meeting weekly with Rockport Management to ensure communication is shared on a proactive basis.