Brius approved plans to shutter nursing homes “devastating,” says state legislator

On September 29, California Assemblymember Jim Wood issued a press about Brius’ decision to go forward with its planned closure of three Humboldt County nursing homes – Eureka, Pacific, and Seaview rehabilitation and wellness centers. In the press release, the assemblymember and Chair of the state Assembly’s Committee on Health, expressed his disappointment that after “numerous attempts to prevent this closure, [Brius] remained steadfast in walking away from more than 200 vulnerable residents and their families.”

Below is the press release.

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.