GREAT BARRINGTON — Great Barrington Nursing and Rehabilitation Center will likely close by May 15, according to Director of Operations Christopher Duncan.
Facility leaders notified the state Department of Public Health on Monday about their intent to close voluntarily. Staff members have also spoken to the 28 men and women who live at the facility, most of them Medicaid patients, and their families about the closure process, he said.
"It's a financial decision," Duncan said. "We love the folks that are here. There is no pressure for the people to leave until the Department of Public Health does approve the closure."
While no resident has to leave before May, staffers are working with residents who wish to transfer to another facility before the formal closure, Duncan said. They are trying to ensure that the residents are moved to facilities in their preferred geographic region, he said.
No resident has been transferred yet, but several have asked to begin the process.
Bear Mountain Health Care, of Thomaston, Conn., has owned the center since September 2017. The company owns 18 facilities across Massachusetts, including the nearby Timberlyn Heights Rehabilitation and Care Center in Great Barrington.
Duncan believes that most of the 50 staff members who will be displaced by the closure will likely be hired at Timberlyn Heights, which focuses on specialty neurobehavioral treatment and rehabilitation.
Unlike Great Barrington, Timberlyn Heights, a boutique facility, is doing well financially, Duncan said.
Duncan said operating a long-term care facility anywhere in Massachusetts is a challenge. On average, Medicaid is reimbursing $36 per person per day less than the Great Barrington nursing home is spending on their care, Duncan said.
"After exploiting many options, including permanently closing one of the Facility's nursing units, Bear Mountain has made the difficult decision that for financial reasons, the continued operation of the Facility is not viable," the letter of intent sent to the DPH said. "Despite Bear Mountain's best efforts, the Facility has experienced a continued decline in referrals, resulting in significant monthly losses."
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has rated Great Barrington Nursing and Rehabilitation Center as an "average" facility. The DPH gave the facility a rating of 120 out of a possible 132, which is slightly above the state average.
The next step in the facility's closure will be a public hearing held sometime in February and, later, a facility visit by DPH representatives, Duncan said.
It is some time after that when the state will officially approve the closure, he said.
Duncan said he's always been impressed by the camaraderie among staff and residents at the small facility.
"They are incredibly loving and passionate toward their residents, and, frankly, toward their team," Duncan said of staff. "We promised them we will take a very special interest in every single case."
Haven Orecchio-Egresitz can be reached at email@example.com, @HavenEagle on Twitter and 413-770-6977.