Struggling Lubec nursing home to close in August

Posted June 26, 2014, at 6:39 p.m.

LUBEC, Maine — Oceanview Nursing Home & Residential Care will close its doors near the end of August because it can no longer maintain a sufficient number of residents, it announced Thursday afternoon.

“We’ve been running under 85 percent occupancy for over six months,” administrator and company president Nathan Brown said.

Oceanview needed to be at 87 percent occupancy in order to break even, he explained.

“I’ve been scratching my head all year about that,” Brown said when asked why the nursing home could not maintain an adequate number of residents. “It’s a statewide issue,” he said, with the number of nursing home residents down throughout the state.

The facility, which has operated in Lubec for 53 years and has been run by members of Brown’s family for the past 37 years, will close Aug. 29.

The nursing home currently employs 46 people in full- and part-time jobs, he said. Last year, it averaged 53 employees.

In an announcement he issued Thursday, Brown said only 19 of the nursing home’s 31 beds were occupied, and the company is losing about $1,500 per day. Occupancy dipped as low as seven residents on two occasions this year, he said.

Brown said he held a meeting with residents, family members and employees Thursday to inform them of the decision.

The closest nursing home is located in Machias, 28 miles away.

A number of factors contributed to the elimination of most of the company’s financial reserve in recent years, Brown said.

“By last summer, we were down to covering operations,” he said in the company’s announcement. “By January 2014, we had to take a line of credit to ensure we had the funds to cover our payroll.”

“We have performed a juggling act since then and tried to rebuild, harassed hospitals, took in respites, accepted transfers from other facilities, took hospital referrals other providers declined,” said Brown.

The nursing home trimmed spending, hours, staffing and inventory, he added.

The nursing home recently received its third deficiency-free survey in the past seven years, Brown noted, “even under extraordinarily difficult circumstances.”

“No one should fault our hospital systems, regulatory agencies or legislators for what occurred at Oceanview or what has been occurring in our industry,” Brown said. “If fault exists, it is in the market we attempted to function in and my inability to make people consider Oceanview to be a valued enough and needed enough part of it.”

Brown also praised his employees. “The fact that we survived as long as we managed speaks to the abilities and character of our team through that course of time.”

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