With the closure date for the Mobridge Care and Rehabilitation Center quickly approaching, the window to take any action to stop is closing.
In the past week notice was given to the residents that they needed to find facilities in which to live and some have already done so and are leaving the facility. On Wednesday, Nov. 28, notice of employment termination was handed out to the staff.
A closure date of Thursday, Jan. 31, was given as the last day of employment of the facility staff.
Spencer Gosch, who is working with the group of Mobridge leaders fighting to keep the facility open, said last week that he was under the impression that date was set and Golden Living would be able to close it on that date, but it is not necessarily a firm date.
He said certain moves are made legally to ensure that they are provided tax dollars for their receivership.
“In situations like this, the status quo is the status quo until we can get something changed concretely,” he said.
Michele Harrison, executive director of Mobridge Economic Development, said that group is in the process of hiring a lawyer to help with the legal process.
“We sent the lawyer a long list of questions that need to be answered and a list of our needs,” she said on Tuesday.
Harrison said the process is at the point that there is no further information to share.
“I wish we knew more but we don’t,” she said.
Impact on community
If the facility closes at a loss of more than 70 jobs, the economic impact on Mobridge and on Walworth County will be significant. Not only in the loss of jobs in the community, but perhaps the loss of families as parents seek employment elsewhere.
That means fewer people in the community, students leaving the school district and fewer dollars circulating through local economies.
On Tuesday, Governor Dennis Daugaard made his final budget address to the legislature outlining his preference for a 2.3 percent increase for Medicaid providers, including long-term care providers.
But it comes too little, too late perhaps for the Mobridge facility.
In a statement released by the South Dakota Health Care Association, that group states the move is not enough to keep long-term facilities from losing money.
“While the Governor’s proposed increase is a positive step compared to recent years, 2.3 percent still falls far short of the kind of change that is necessary to sustain our long term care infrastructure,” said Mark B. Deak, Executive Director of the group. “Given the nursing home closures and likely closures in our state, significantly more has to be done.”
Inadequate reimbursement is a primary driver of the closures. If additional funding is not secured, more closures will almost certainly occur. In addition, South Dakota’s aging population is projected to require more access to long-term care services in the future, according to the South Dakota Health Care Association.
On May 1, 2018, nineteen South Dakota healthcare facilities formerly operated by Skyline Healthcare affiliates were placed in receivership with (BHR) in an effort to stabilize their operations. In documents filed in Hughes County court on Nov. 13, the day before announcing the closure of nursing facilities in Madison and Mobridge, Black Hills Receivership, LLC, stated the 19 nursing facilities are “operating at a significant and unsustainable loss.” The firm stated in those documents that by the end of the year, the combined loss for the 19 facilities would be around $7.7 million. By closing the two (Mobridge and madison) with the most significant losses, the receiver hopes to maintain operations in other facilities.
So in order to stabilize the other 17 facilities, the center in Mobridge, as well as Madison’s, are deemed a necessity to close. It was estimated in the court filing that estimates by the end of the year, the losses for these two facilities would be in excess of $1.2 million.
The hearing for the closing request is Thursday, Dec. 20 in Hughes County. Harrison said it sounds more like this is a formality than it is a request.
In those court documents, BHR stated it, “does not believe that there is any way to generate sufficient funds to cover the expenses for operating the Madison and Mobridge facilities in a cash-flow positive manner, and instead believes that the financial prognosis for Madison and Mobridge is very poor due to various operational difficulties, including difficulties with hiring and retaining permanent staff for those facilities (resulting in extremely high usage of temporary labor).”
A draft of closure plans has been submitted to the state Department of Health and includes both facilities would cease new admissions, there would be a 60-day notice in advance of closure to residents, assistance to residents in identifying other nursing facilities, meetings with residents and family members about the closure, and requests to treating physicians for medical assessments to facilitate transition planning.
– Katie Zerr –