By Kalea Hall
Sherri Smith was heartbroken when she found out she would lose her home at the former Cedarcreek Health and Rehabilitation Center in Warren.
Dressed in a pink paisley dress and decked out in jewelry, Smith talked about that traumatic event.
“I loved it there,” Smith said of the Cedarcreek facility. “It was a complete home for me. The staff was absolutely amazing.”
The sudden closures of two nursing home facilities – Cedarcreek and Campus Health Care Center in Liberty – affected about 70 residents, all of whom had to be relocated.
That’s why on Tuesday, the local Area Agency on Aging 11 brought local nursing-home representatives together at the Quality Inn in Liberty to talk about how relocation impacts residents.
“In both cases, we reached this traumatic scenario,” said John Saulitis, director of the agency’s long-term care ombudsman program. “This is no different than a tornado coming in and wiping out the nursing home.”
New Beginnings-owned Cedarcreek was closed after the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services terminated the facility’s Medicare and Medicaid provider agreements Feb. 18 because the facility failed to comply with the programs.
Another New Beginnings facility, Campus Health Care Center of Liberty, closed in late January. New Beginnings, of Tennessee, shut down the Liberty facility after the Ohio Department of Health and Rehabilitation said it would revoke Campus Health’s license for violating the state’s law and administrative codes.
Both closures came after New Beginnings filed for bankruptcy. The company claims to have 100 to 199 creditors, assets of zero to $50,000 and liabilities of $1 million to $10 million.
Saulitis and Theresa Knapik, a long-term care ombudsman specialist, explained the events that led up to both closures.
At Campus, the closure was sudden. The agency found out at 10 p.m. on a Thursday the company intended to close the facility by 7 p.m. the next day. With about 40 residents at the facility, the agency’s team worked quickly to help the residents choose a new facility.
After the residents at Campus were informed of the closure, crying and outrage ensued.
“This was their home,” Knapik said. “They didn’t want to go.”
There was more time to help residents transition at Cedarcreek because the state health department initially gave notice to the company the facility wasn’t in compliance with Medicare and Medicaid standards before the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services terminated the agreements.
Nonetheless, the residents at Cedarcreek, like Smith, who lived there for eight months, didn’t want to leave. Smith stayed until the last day.
Christine Brugler, a registered nurse, has studied the effects of relocation. Her research was validated with a nursing diagnosis for Relocation Stress Syndrome in 1992.
“Territory is important to people,” she said. “We acknowledge our space in ways that we aren’t even consciously aware of.”
Nursing-home representatives from homes that received residents from Campus and Cedar Creek learned of the characteristics from the syndrome, including anxiety, depression, sadness, despair and confusion.
“Guide them through the best way you can,” Smith said of how nursing homes can help those who have been relocated. “Be as thoughtful and as caring as you can be.”
For Smith, the hardest part is missing the staff at Cedarcreek, but fortunately she knows many of the staff members at her new home.
“I love all staff at nursing homes,” she said. “You are all very thoughtful and caring.”