Residents, staff decry possible closure of Hamden nursing home
HAMDEN — As the state pulls back on Medicaid reimbursements for some nursing homes in Connecticut, the move threatens to shudder one of Hamden’s largest employers.
The Arden House, owned by Genesis HealthCare, could close, displacing more than 250 residents and around 300 employees, because the state is reducing Medicaid reimbursements for nine nursing homes that have declining utilization and lower ratings, officials said Thursday.
“Arden has been a part of this community for a long time,” Mayor Curt B. Leng said at a press event. “The threat of closing a facility like this in such a short period of time, it’s heartless.”
Arden House Administrator Patrick McDonnell said the facility is looking at losing $2 million to $2.25 million over the course of a year because it has such a large Medicaid population — about 245 residents.
Administrators can appeal the reduction within 10 days of when they receive the rate letter, which was mailed to all nursing homes Aug. 14, effective back to the start of the fiscal year.
If they’re not successful in the appeal, McDonnell said he hopes at least they can negotiate a prorated extension so the facility isn’t hit with a reduced rate immediately.
“It’s a terrific injustice to do this,” said Hamden at-large Councilwoman Elizabeth Wetmore, who worked at the Arden House for 35 years as a nurse.
Jennifer Sherard, who’s been a resident there for two months, said her family was at their wits end on how they would take care of her.
“They didn’t have the room to take a person in but they didn’t want to see me on the street,” Sherard said, adding that closing the nursing home would lead to a bigger problem. “Shutting Arden House down only adds to the population of homelessness. We’re trying to cut that down, not add to it.”
Nine facilities throughout the state are looking at a reduction in their Medicaid reimbursement rate, state Sen. George Logan, R-Ansonia, said.
“The state is making a mistake,” he said. “They’re missing the impact to the community.”
Arden House CNA Cassandra Williams said closing the facility hurts residents, staff and everyone’s extened families because being able to stay at the Arden House lifts a burden for many people who can’t take care of aging or disabled family members.
“This place is a benefit to all of us,” she said. “It seems like we’re not fighting hard enough.” Williams said many of the residents might not have anywhere else to go if it were to close, and the state should consider how entire families are impacted.
“Like you fight for your family, fight for this one,” she said.
Logan said the decision on which nursing homes to close is being based on cost of operation and occupancy rates.
Currently, the Arden House operates 267 beds, but is licensed for 360. McDonnell said realistically the state needs to reduce the 3,000 vacant beds, but the nursing homes should have the opportunity to license their beds, which would help lower the occupancy rate.
“We want an opportunity for this change to be reevaluated,” Leng said. He invited Gov. Ned Lamont and legislators to view the facility to make a decision not only based on numbers, but on people’s testimony.
The facility has been cited several times in recent years for incidents in which residents were harmed, and the federal government this year gave the Arden House and 29 other Connecticut nursing homes a one-star rating out of five stars.
Arden House last year was one of six nursing homes fined by the state for various violations that endangered or injured residents, according to previous reporting. The state fined the facility $3,660 for four incidents.
Several current residents said the one-star rating is a mistake and that they receive quality care.