(WNY News Now) – Lutheran Social Services of Upstate New York, Inc. (LSS) has confirmed the closure of its nursing home and subacute rehabilitation program, affecting 49 residents and 106 staff members. The decision, influenced by a range of challenges in the senior care industry, will take effect on January 2, 2024, or earlier pending the discharge of the last resident.
JAMESTOWN, NY – Lutheran Social Services of Upstate New York, Inc. (LSS) has announced the closure of its nursing home and sub acute rehabilitation program, impacting 49 residents and 106 full, part-time, and per diem positions. The closure, set to take effect on January 2, 2024, or earlier pending resident discharges, has been officially filed with the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH).
The decision, outlined in a statement on LSS’s Facebook page, cites a series of challenges that have plagued Chautauqua County’s senior living programs since 2019. These challenges include an imbalance between certified skilled nursing beds and residents, regulatory burdens, decreasing Medicaid reimbursement rates, rising delivery costs, a shrinking healthcare workforce, and a trend favoring home-based care.
Local skilled nursing facilities have struggled with an average occupancy rate of 65%, significantly below the 90 to 95% rate required for financial sustainability. Lutheran, which operated at optimal occupancy four years ago, finds itself unable to maintain the same level of stability. ”It is with great sadness that the Lutheran Board of Directors and Administration have decided that it is necessary to close this great community resource,” said Lutheran President and CEO Tom Holt. “Lutheran is currently working with the New York State Department of Health to ensure that this transition is as smooth as possible. Our top priority is to work with every resident, their families and our valued employees, to secure new housing options, care and job placement,” said Holt.
Lutheran Board Chair Terry Turner added, “Lutheran’s longstanding mission is to offer care that supports an individual’s journey through life with compassion, dignity, and respect. Our pathway now includes how we evolve and innovate for the well-being of our county-wide senior population.”
“Losing a high quality, long-term care provider is a loss for the community, particularly rural communities where there are far fewer choices. New York State is responsible for this closure because of its failure to cover the cost of caring for Medicaid residents who make up the vast majority of residents living in nursing homes. New York State, on average, only covers 74% of the cost of care” said Jim Clyne, CEO of LeadingAge New York. “The time is now. Our state needs a better financial solution to care for our respected elders.”
In addition to written notifications as outlined in the official closure plan submitted to NYSDOH, in-person meetings will be scheduled with residents and families to explain the forthcoming process and provide opportunities for questions and guidance.
Lutheran will coordinate, assist, and ensure that appropriate arrangements are made for residents who wish to receive services from a nursing home of their choosing. Every effort will be made to provide a seamless transition and smooth continuation of services through individualized care management plans.
“We know this decision is coming as a surprise to many but we are dealing with harsh industry realities. Hard decisions have to be made to keep the other county-wide facilities viable financially.
There just aren’t enough people, both residents and staff, to keep all the facilities open, providing optimum levels of care. We can’t be three years down the road, not paying our bills and be financially insoluble where it negatively impacts the other programs under the Lutheran senior housing umbrella,” Holt added.
Lutheran will also endeavor to assist its affected employees according to requirements outlined by the Department of Labor Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN), connecting with local Workforce Investment Board (WIB) resources, assisting with placement at surrounding health care facilities, and supporting outreach to local employers to include hosting on-site job fair events.
Building and property disposition following the discharge of all residents has not yet been determined. At the time of closure, the facility will be secured, all fire and security systems will remain operable, and staff will be assigned to round daily to ensure the integrity of the building, its contents and property.
WNY News Now has confirmed that the facility is indeed closing and that the post is indeed authentic.