More public officials blast Shlomo Rechnitz for “inexcusable” nursing home closures

Two more public officials have joined the growing chorus of criticism aimed at Brius due to its threatened closure of three Humboldt County nursing homes and planned eviction of nearly 190 elderly and frail residents. Last week, Patty Berg and Wesley Chesbro published a joint op-ed in the North Coast Journal blasting Brius and its owner, Shlomo Rechnitz.

Berg represented the North Coast region in the California Assembly from 2002 through 2008, where she chaired the Committee on Aging and Long-Term Care. She’s also the founding director of the Area 1 Agency on Aging. Chesbro represented the North Coast in both the California Senate and Assembly from 1998 through 2012. He’s a former California State Senator, Humboldt County supervisor, and Arcata city councilmember.

Berg and Chesbro begin their op-ed this way: “As your former legislative representatives in Sacramento, we want the community to know how appalled we are by the pending closures of three skilled nursing facilities in Humboldt County.”

They continue: “The closures would reduce the number of beds by 258, or 60 percent. But most devastating, it would have the catastrophic effect of moving hundreds of elderly, poor and vulnerable individuals out of the county to other facilities at this time unknown.”

They write: “This is simply intolerable. We have been working to try to put a temporary halt to something we believe would have drastic and traumatic consequences for these individuals and their families…”

Chesbro and Berg describe how Partnership Health Plan, the nonprofit public healthcare organization that administers Medi-Cal benefits in 14 Northern California counties including Humboldt, approached Brius about taking over the three facilities. Shlomo Rechnitz has said he’s willing to give away the three nursing homes for free. Despite his public offer, Rechnitz told Partnership “it would have to purchase all five facilities or none in order to avoid competition. Rechnitz’s asking price was $32.6 million,” write Berg and Chesbro. That was a deal-killer.

Berg and Chesbro direct special criticism at Brius CEO Shlomo Rechnitz for creating an “inexcusable,” “unnecessary,” “simply intolerable,” and “dire situation.”

Writing about the crisis now affecting hundreds of nursing home residents and their families, Chesbro and Berg state: “Specifically, though, it is due to Mr. Shlomo Rechnitz, owner of Brius Healthcare Service, who cries of his loss of Medi-Cal income during this last year because of staffing shortages. Yet, reports say he personally takes in $3 billion in income per year. Go figure.”