St. Louis' largest nursing home closed so abruptly last week, according to the union representing workers there, that 170 people who lived there were moved to new homes without notifying family members and staff did not receive their last paycheck.
The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services said in a statement to The Associated Press that it was notified Friday afternoon of the closure of Northview Village. Lenny Jones, state director of a union representing workers at the facility, confirmed the closure.
More than 170 residents, who were moved overnight to their new homes, left their belongings behind and their families were not notified of the move, said Marjorie Moore, executive director of VOYCE, a group in St. Louis that advocates for the protection of long term. term care residents and their families. Mr Jones also confirmed the movement of the 170 people.
Northview Village's phone number did not appear to be operational Monday night. And a message could not be left for Healthcare Accounting Services, the company that owns the nursing home, at the number listed.
“It really is like a family is broken,” Ms. Moore said, adding that they were helping relatives find residents, some of whom were relocated to at least 14 other facilities in the region. Many of the residents had relied on Medicaid, she said in a phone interview, making it even more difficult to find them new homes.
“These people were certainly not in good health and needed a lot of care,” he said. “It's almost like the whole world has been taken away from them.”
In the past three years, the center had received more than 20 citations after inspectors investigated complaints. As of March 2021, it had received more than $140,000 in fines for failing to comply with federal standards.
A staff member who visited the facility on Saturday described the scene as “apocalyptic,” Moore added. “It looked like the place had been looted. The papers were everywhere. The cars were just looted,” Ms. Moore said of the worker’s account. Several televisions were still on and baseball cards were placed on a bed. “It was like everyone had to leave suddenly.”
On Monday, relatives were still desperately trying to find their loved ones in their new care facilities. Alvin Cooper told the AP that he was trying to find his son, Alvin Cooper Jr., who had lived in Northview Village for several months while recovering from a gunshot wound to the head.
“They don't know where it is,” Cooper told the AP. He was preparing to file a missing person report. “I don't know if he's somewhere safe or what's going to happen to him.”
It was unclear Monday night why Northview Village had closed so quickly. According to the union that represents about 100 nursing home workers, the workers first realized something was wrong when they did not receive their biweekly paychecks on Friday afternoon.
“They were told they weren't going to get any money,” said Jones, Missouri state director of a local of the Service Employees International Union. “There are workers who have lost their jobs and who have been there for 37 years.”
“They didn't prepare us,” Carolyn Hawthorn, a registered nurse, told reporters outside the facility on Friday. “A lot of the staff here are workers. “They need this money to feed their children,” she stated, adding: “There are ten days until Christmas.”
Jones said he had never heard of such an abrupt closure. Typically, he said, a nursing home must notify the federal Medicaid program and give the state time to transfer residents to other families and contact their relatives.
“This nursing home obviously didn't do any of that,” he said. Since then, workers have been told they would soon receive their paychecks, but were not informed about other benefits, such as accrued vacation and severance pay.
He added that the union had received complaints from workers about Northview Village for years, including bed bugs, sewage problems and staff shortages. He said the problem of nursing home owners putting profits before care is endemic.
Northview Village had received a rating of one star out of five by a federal rating system, ratings that can be inflated, a Times investigation found this year. According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, nursing staff at Northview Village had spent nearly two hours a day with each resident, about half the national average.
News USA Today has a skilled online editor and content writer, boasting six years of experience in Media and Broadcasting. News, Finance, Sports, Travel, and Entertainment.