State slams Brius over proposal to close majority of Humboldt County nursing homes

On September 1, 2016, State and Humboldt County officials with the Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program submitted a joint letter to the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) requesting that the CDPH deny Brius’ petition to close three of its five nursing homes in Humboldt County — Eureka, Pacific, and Seaview Rehabilitation and Wellness Centers.

Brius, which holds a near monopoly on Humboldt County’s nursing home industry, submitted a formal request to the CDPH on August 24 to shut down the three nursing homes, according to the complaint. The closures would eliminate 258 of the county’s 446 nursing home beds and force nearly as many residents to relocate, according to the formal complaint letter.

“This is a highly unusual situation and one that could have traumatic consequences for hundreds of Eureka area nursing home residents,” write the ombudsmen.

“If authorized by CDPH, the planned closing of the three nursing homes all at the same time would create a terrible crisis by reducing bed capacity by nearly 60% in a community that is already underserved due to an aging population and insufficient alternatives,” the letter continues. “We are deeply concerned about the probability of transfer trauma that would hurt or kill residents.”

Many of the residents who would be forced out of the three Humboldt nursing homes were transferred there two years ago when Brius shut down its Wish-I-Ah Skilled Nursing and Wellness Centre in Auberry (Fresno County, Calif.) after it was decertified by federal and state regulators. Wish-I-Ah residents were transferred more than 400 miles away, distancing them from family and friends. Such transfers from one facility to another can be traumatic for residents. If Brius’ plan is approved by the CDPH, Brius may transfer these same residents again, forcing them, in the ombudsmen’s words, to again “adjust to life in new surroundings, with new caregivers, new roommates, new health care providers, and new routines while having very little that is familiar to comfort them.”

“Mr. Rechnitz and his associates should not be allowed to repeat the act of moving residents from a troubled facility they own in one community to troubled nursing homes they own in distant communities,” states the letter.

The formal complaint, which also cites Brius’ lack of adequate planning for relocating residents as well as the company’s pattern of violating the laws governing nursing homes care, calls on the CDPH to place the three nursing homes under temporary state receivership until a suitable operator can take control of the facilities.

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