Nursing Home Struggles to Stay Open

Posted on 08. Dec, 2009 by in Uncategorized

By Emily Lavin

A $7.5 million dollar budget deficit will soon force the Longwood St. Vincent De Paul nursing home to close its doors, something that would leave many elderly residents without access to local nursing home care.

The South Bronx facility has had trouble covering its operating costs since it opened on Intervale Avenue in 1992, said James Introne, the president and CEO of Archcare, the non-profit health care organization that runs the St. Vincent De Paul.

The nursing home’s attempts to get out of debt have been unsuccessful, Introne said. He added that because the nursing home has a high percentage of residents on Medicaid, recent cuts to the state’s Medicaid program have made funding even more scarce.

In late September, residents, their families and the staff of the 200-bed facility were told that the state had granted the Saint Vincent De Paul enough money to pay off their debt and then shut down.

“It’s an absolute shame,” said Christina, a 49-year-old woman who preferred not to give her last name, on a recent day at the center.

She said her 81-year-old mother lives at home, but participates in the center’s adult day health care program, which provides seniors with meals as well as health and social services like physical therapy and counseling. “My mom lives alone, and the rest of the family is down in Brooklyn. We don’t know what we’re going to do now, where she’s going to go. It’s a big concern.”

In addition to the adult day health care program, the nursing home provides both long-term care and short-term rehabilitation services for seniors. St. Vincent De Paul is the only senior center in the Hunts Point and Longwood area to offer overnight care.

Introne said Archcare is working to shutter the existing St. Vincent De Paul without displacing those who depend on it. The charity wants to build subsidized housing for seniors on the property’s parking lot and create new care program inside the nursing home.

However, the subsidized housing and care program would only be available to seniors with a certain type of health care only available to those who require long-term nursing home care. Community residents who use the center for its short term programs would lose those services permanently, Introne said.

District Manager John Robert said many community board members were concerned that closing the existing program at the St. Vincent De Paul would eliminate a critical community resource.

“Even if the space is replaced with other kinds of more intensive care that they’re not able to provide right now, it still leaves a hole, it leaves a vacuum,” Robert said. “People need those beds, and if they can’t get those beds here, where do they go?”

So far, the state has only granted St. Vincent De Paul the funding to close and not convert the center.

“St. Vincent De Paul is in the very early stages of discussions with the state,” Introne said. “It has a high degree of confidence that the state and city will support its conversion plan. However, the details of the plan are still being formulated, and no commitments of support have yet been made.”

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