By Ron VandenBoom
Everybody was at work this morning at Prairie Vista Manor Nursing Home, but a bit stunned after word came Wednesday that the nursing home would be closed and its 25 residents transferred to other facilities.
State regulators decided against conducting a fourth inspection at the nursing home in Big Sandy, which could have allowed the home to remain open.
John Kuhr, director of nursing at Prairie Vista, said this morning the staff had no major reaction to the news and it was too early to say what individual members will do now that they are facing unemployment.
"I think people have already gone through acceptance," Kohr said, adding that they were staying for the sake of the 25 residents who suffer from various forms of mental illness.
Kohr said several of the professional staff have been offered positions with the Big Sandy Medical Center and others have received offers from the state to work at other medical facilities.
Other employees at the nursing home worked there because they cared about the residents and not because they had to work, he said.
They might stay in the area and perhaps look for other work, he said.
Prairie Vista employed 20 full-time people and 11 part-time employees. It was the second largest employer in Big Sandy, pumping about $400,000 annually into the town's economy.
Administrator Sylvia Brandenburg said this morning that she is disappointed by the state's decision, but added that it was not altogether unexpected. Brandenburg was brought on board by Northwest Senior Care Association LLC of Milton-Freewater, Ore., and Spokane, Wash., less than two weeks ago to help sort out the problems at the beleaguered home. Northwest operates the home.
She said she expects the process to move the remaining residents to other facilities will be completed within a few weeks.
The deadline for the home to receive Medicaid funding is today and the 24 residents currently funded will have 30 days in which to relocate before losing their funding. One resident has already been moved.
State monitors have been on site at Prairie Vista for several weeks, overseeing the feeding and care for the residents, Kuhr said.
Numerous infractions were found by state inspectors in December at the home, including poor controls over medicine, no comprehensive plans for treating bed sores and an unlicensed administrator, Charles Sipler, who received a cease and desist order in May ordering him to stop functioning at the facility's administrator. Prairie Vista failed another inspection in March and a follow-up inspection in late May.
Several attempts to reach Dave Sande, owner of the home, were unsuccessful this morning.
Sande, who has owned the facility for 32 years had leased Prairie Vista to Northwest two years ago and retired.
In an earlier interview, Sande said he had not been told of the problems at the home until late April when he came out of retirement to attempt to solve the problems and save the home.
"Everyone here has just been working our butts of to fix things," Sande said shortly after word was received that the Medicaid certification would be pulled by June 8.
Sande said the word hit him "like a ton of bricks," adding that he had gotten the impression at the time from a monitoring team that everything was moving in the right direction.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.