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Brewster nursing home set to close

Cape Cod Times - 9/19/2018

Sept. 19--BREWSTER -- The owners of Wingate at Brewster plan to close the 173-bed nursing home by mid-January, as well as a smaller nursing home in Providence, Rhode Island.

SRC Management LLC announced Tuesday that it had filed applications with the departments of public health in both Massachusetts and Rhode Island to close Wingate at Brewster and the 55-bed Wingate Residences on Blackstone Boulevard in Providence.

According to Massachusetts regulations, it takes up to 120 days to close a nursing home once the DPH has been notified, said Justine Griffin, of Rasky Partners Inc., speaking on behalf of SRC Management.

Nursing home officials cited the challenges of modernizing the Brewster facility, which was built in the 1970s, as a driving reason behind the planned closure. In a statement, they said the nursing home "faces physical challenges that prevent Wingate from modernizing and reconfiguring to meet the high standard of comfort and care that residents and families expect from Wingate."

Chief operating officer Jill Bosa said nursing home officials would work with residents and their families to make sure there was "no disruption" in service provided to the residents.

"Many of our current residents and staff will have the option to transfer to our Harwich location if they so choose," she said in the release.

"We also will continue to operate the Assisted Living at Brewster, which will continue to meet the needs of the residents and the community," Bosa said.

Wingate at Brewster employs 61 full-time employees and 11 part-time employees, Griffin said in an email. She said their Brewster nursing home currently has 93 residents.

The shuttering of Wingate at Brewster is the latest in a string of nursing home closures in the Bay State.

In December 2017, five nursing homes -- all off Cape -- told the DPH they planned to close.

Many are struggling financially, said Bill Bogdanovich, president and CEO of Broadreach Healthcare and Liberty Commons, the latter of which provides long-term nursing home care in Chatham.

"Nursing homes definitely continue to endure chronic underfunding," said Bogdanovich, who is past president of the Massachusetts Senior Care Association.

He said nursing homes depend heavily on reimbursement from MassHealth, the Medicaid program funded by the state and federal governments, unlike assisted living facilities, which mainly are privately funded by residents.

MassHealth nursing home reimbursement rates are based on 2007 expenses, said Bogdanovich, speaking as a private person and not as a former president of the MSCA.

The average MassHealth reimbursement is $200 a day, but the average cost is $240, he said.

In older facilities, ability to make capital improvements "with that funding stream is completely absent," Bogdanovich said.

"It's a little unsettling to have something so close to home happen," he said of the closing.

Wingate at Brewster, acquired by SRC Brewster SNF LLC in March 2016, used to be known as Epoch Senior Healthcare of Brewster. The company, based in Needham, also took over operational responsibility of Epoch Senior Healthcare of Harwich -- now Wingate at Harwich -- and Epoch Assisted Living at Brewster Place.

The facilities were formerly part of a sizable portfolio held by Ventas Inc., a real estate investment trust headquartered in Chicago.

Ventas also owned Kindred Transitional Care & Rehabilitation-Eagle Pond in Dennis, but that is no longer listed on its real estate investment portfolio, although several senior housing complexes on the Cape remain on the list.

"Closing a nursing home is never an easy decision," Bosa said in Tuesday's release. "We care deeply about our residents and their families, and we are committed to their health, safety and well-being."

According to a DPH official, the proposed closure date for the nursing home is Jan. 18, 2019.

--Follow Cynthia McCormick on Twitter: @cmccormickCCT.


(c)2018 Cape Cod Times, Hyannis, Mass.

Visit Cape Cod Times, Hyannis, Mass. at www.capecodtimes.com

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