Calais leaders to convene on options in wake of nursing home closure

Posted July 09, 2012, at 2:52 p.m.

CALAIS, Maine — Community leaders distressed by the recent closure of the city’s only nursing home will meet Tuesday, July 10, to determine what options, if any, are available that would bring displaced residents back to Calais.

The decision by Portland-based First Atlantic Healthcare to shutter its 52-bed Atlantic Rehabilitation and Nursing Center displaced dozens of residents and cost 92 workers their jobs. With a chronic shortage of licensed nursing home beds throughout Washington County, many of those displaced are now living many miles from family and friends.

Tuesday’s meeting is scheduled to start at 11 a.m. in the boardroom of Washington County Community College in Calais.

“I’m making no predictions that we’ll come to any resolution,” Calais Mayor Joseph Cassidy said Monday. “And there isn’t any distinct agenda. We just want the region’s policymakers and the health care community to put their heads together and talk until we come up with something, or realize that we can’t.”

First Atlantic’s decision to close the 39-year-old facility was linked to its plans to build a new nursing home in Ellsworth, which is 90 miles away. Construction of that project has yet to begin.

The city of Calais appealed the Maine Department of Health and Human Services’ approval of the required certificate of need for the Ellsworth facility, but that approval was recently reaffirmed by Commissioner Mary Mayhew.

“As we watched this process play out, we realized that a very drastic thing was about to happen,” Cassidy said.

At one point in that process, First Atlantic CEO Kenneth Bowden suggested that the property be acquired by the city or some other nonprofit entity. Bowden said nonprofit ownership would allow for higher levels of state reimbursement for resident care.

Bowden said in April that the decision to close Atlantic Rehab was financial, with expenses far exceeding revenues.

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