Brius feels backlash, changes closure plans

After months of threatening to shutter three Humboldt County nursing homes, Brius’ owner – billionaire Shlomo Rechnitz – recently changed course, announcing he will only board up Pacific Rehabilitation and Wellness Center.  Eureka and Seaview rehabilitation and wellness centers, the two others that were on the chopping block, will remain in operation.

Rechnitz’ decision comes after he endured a firestorm of criticism from virtually every corner of Humboldt County, including community protests covered by print, radio and TV new outlets.

On Monday, California Senator Mike McGuire told the Lost Coast Outpost and the Eureka Times-Standard that Brius’ tactic to threaten closure of these nursing homes has been “completely irresponsible” and part of a “made-up crisis” to leverage Partnership HealthPlan of California to pay it higher Medi-Cal reimbursement rates.

In so doing, Brius reportedly used hundreds of medically fragile nursing home residents as bargaining chips in an effort to extract more money from Medi-Cal. According to Senator McGuire, “[t]his has been a completely avoidable crisis from the beginning, and it’s been brought on by a billion-dollar corporation that has a tradition of putting profit over people…They wanted to bully their way to higher rates, and bullying doesn’t work here on the North Coast.”

Brius’ insistence on shutting down Pacific Rehabilitation and Wellness Center may have more to do with Rechnitz getting out of having to invest money into the sagging facility. According to this Eureka Times-Standard story, Pacific “appears to be structurally unsound,” with parts of it seemingly breaking away from the main structure.

According to this same report, Brius’ plans to upgrade and/or repair the facility’s heating, cooling and ventilation system are only 10 percent complete, despite having started this project in 2013. For years he’s allowed the health and safety of the residents living at Pacific to be threatened by his decision to maintain the facility poorly. Rather than make the necessary repairs to the nursing home, he’s decided to go forward with his threat to close this nursing home, and eliminate forever 100 nursing home beds from the county.

For more coverage, see the following news stories:

  • Lost Coast Outpost. “’Like extortion’: Senator McGuire says Rockport still angling for higher Medi-Cal rates at skilled nursing homes” (11/7/2016).
  • North Coast Journal. “Brius cancels Partnership contract, halts closure of two skilled nursing facilities” (11/7/2016).
  • Lost Coast Outpost. “Updated: Rockport owner changes plans, says two of three skilled nursing homes slated for closure will remain open” (11/7/2016).
  • Eureka Times-Standard. “Brius halts closure of 2 nursing homes” (11/7/2016).
  • Eureka Times-Standard. “Brius: Two Eureka nursing homes to stay open; no patients need be transferred out of county” (11/7/2016).