May 26, 2018
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Calais area awaits decision on proposed closure of nursing home

By Tom Walsh, BDN Staff

CALAIS, Maine — For residents, staff and families concerned about keeping the Atlantic Rehabilitation and Nursing Center in Calais up and running, the status quo remains hurry up and wait.

What everyone is waiting for is a response from Mary Mayhew, the commissioner of Maine’s Department of Health and Human Services, who has been asked by Calais Mayor Joseph Cassidy to rethink a decision by DHHS that would allow the facility’s owner, First Atlantic Healthcare of Portland, to shut down the 50-bed facility.

Closure would displace residents, whose families are finding that alternative placements are few and distant. It also would leave 92 people jobless.

First Atlantic recently backed away from a planned March 1 closure and now says that mothballing the facility is not “imminent.” Nonetheless, the resultant cloud of uncertainty permeating the situation has prompted some residents to leave. That’s required a reduction of the facility’s 92-member staff, including 50 nursing and support staff who are member of Teamsters Local 340. The union and First Atlantic have been meeting over the past month to orchestrate how best to handle that situation.

Meanwhile, First Atlantic has offered to sell the facility to the city of Calais, as it plans to shift its time and attention to constructing a new $9 million nursing home and assisted living facility in Ellsworth. City Manager Diane Barnes said this week that no decision has been made on the proposal that the city or some other not-for-profit entity assume ownership as a strategy for keeping the doors open.

“Ownership by some public entity would generate a higher reimbursement rate,” Barnes said. “We’re keeping the lines of communications open and exploring every single option. The next step is seeing if DHHS will grant a hearing on closure.”

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