Faced with daunting hurdles that make reopening as a retirement home unlikely, the Deer Isle’s Island retirement home is considering other ways to use its facilities to help the elderly.
In a series of documents released this week, the nursing home described its ongoing struggle to overcome staffing shortages and meet upcoming licensing deadlines needed to reopen. But, with the facility still in good physical shape, the care home’s board said there was a chance it could turn into something else.
“We have several ideas for how we could create a whole new way to serve our seniors without as many challenges in providing skilled nursing care,” the council wrote in a new report.
The council did not explicitly say it was backing down from efforts to resuscitate the care home, but did note that it intended to have public discussions next month to seek suggestions on how best to resuscitate the care home. use the facility in the future.
Ronda Dodge, chair of the nursing home board, declined to comment Thursday on what other uses the board is considering.
The Island Nursing Home operated in Hancock County for 40 years before closing in 2021. One of the biggest employers on the island, it was a hit to many in Deer Isle and Stonington. A wave of support gathered around him after the closure and a local task force came together to help care home managers get the place back up and running.
However, despite efforts, the prospects for reopening the care home look bleak.
When the facility closed, the state suspended its Medicare licenses and certifications, allowing the nursing home to keep them in case it could reopen. The state license is due to expire in February 2023. Certifications with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services expire in October 2022.
To be financially stable, the care home would need to have a full skilled nursing unit – something the care home board concluded was not possible before the October deadline.
The care home would need more than 50 full-time care staff to meet licensing requirements, a number it felt it could not meet. In 2020 and 2021, the house said it had exhausted all its hiring options and still had 37 unfilled positions when it closed.
The council considered bringing in nurses from the Philippines, but felt it would take at least a year before they could arrive.
Any potential staff who could be secured would also need accommodation, which is increasingly difficult to find on the island. The nursing home has focused on housing construction, encouraging people to offer their homes for rent or to buy existing properties.
Although securing more accommodation would likely have attracted more staff, the care home felt that with the continued shortage of workers there would still not have been enough people, whether or not there were accommodation for them.
Reopening after either licensing deadline would mean the nursing home would have to conform to a host of different standards to which it had previously been grandfathered and require structural changes to the building.
According to Covenant Health, a consultant hired by the nursing homes‘ board of directors late last year, the nursing home would also need a minimum of $3 million in reserve by October to fund the first year of operation, another obstacle even if he could get the necessary staff. .
“Given the current staffing challenges, the impact of the pandemic and the October 2022 wait date, it would be more realistic for the INH Board to reassess the potential operating a retirement home in two or three years,” Covenant wrote. in a presentation earlier this month.
The consultant suggested, given the financial constraints of operating a skilled nursing facility, that the council consider partnering with a larger organization if it wished to continue as a nursing home.
Another option the board said it seriously considered was to provide residential care only. But he calculated that under this model he would lose about $500,000 a year.
Without a “qualified nursing unit to help offset costs, it is not financially viable to operate solely as a residential care facility dependent on reimbursements from the State of Maine,” the board wrote.
If the nursing home remains closed, it would be a blow to the area, city officials said. In a grizzled part of the state, the next closest retirement home in Hancock County is about 30 miles away in Ellsworth.
“This is terrible news,” said Stonington City Manager Kathleen Billings. “It’s a great loss for the community, there’s no doubt about that.”