A Wichita long-term care facility will close down its skilled nursing home and relocate about 53 residents to live somewhere else by September, according to the Kansas Office of the Long-Term Care Ombudsman.
Camille Russell, the state long-term care ombudsman, said her office received a closure plan for the Kansas Masonic Home, 402 S. Martinson, in Delano.
“There is trauma with having to move from your home,” Russell said. “The more information you have, the better options you’re provided, the best support and communication given, the less negative impact on the person.”
Russell did not know whether a certain number of staff would lose their jobs with the partial closure, but said they do have concerns about staffing shortages. The home is obligated to meet the staffing needs of residents until they move out.
The closure plan was originally sent to the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services, as required, and shared with the state ombudsmen, who assist and advocate for residents. Russell’s office is not responsible for approving or denying a relocation plan, but advocating on behalf of residents.
“We know the more answers residents, family and staff have up front there is a better chance to reduce anxiety associated with a closure,” Russell said.
A representative from Kansas Masonic Home was not immediately available to answer questions about the planned closure and the impact on jobs.
Kelly Sommers, state director of the Kansas State Nurses Association, said that nurses are generally in high demand for hiring right now.
The Kansas State Nurses Association is a nonprofit that advocates on behalf of nurses and the people they serve across the state. It represents registered nurses, but not the certified nursing assistants, or CNAs, that typically staff long-term care facilities.
CNAs are part of the health care team and have specific skills that communities need, Sommers said. However, it could be more difficult for any laid-off CNAs to find other work if they are trying to stay in the Wichita region. Long-term care nurses might be in higher demand in other parts of the state.
“That makes me very sad. The impact on the employees, the impact on the people who live there, the impact on the families,” Sommers said. “This decision is difficult for so many. We always have shortages of CNAs too and those CNAs have been under extreme stress.”
Registered nurses and certified nursing assistants are typically not unionized in Kansas, Sommers said. But the work can be difficult and many take on the care for extra residents when staffing shortages abound.
“They are stretched very, very thin,” she said. “When you have a CNA in that position, also a low-paying job, then how you keep that CNA is a huge challenge.”
Kansas Masonic Home also operates independent and assisted living, memory care, rehab and more. The skilled nursing closure is the only plan the state is aware of at this time.
It was founded in 1896 and opened to the public and non-masons in 1974, according to its website.
The home has an overall rating of two out of five stars from the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The quality of resident care received a five-star rating while the health inspections received a one-star rating. The facility participated in both Medicare and Medicaid as of late June. It has 109 certified beds, according to the federal agency.
How relocation works
In the event of relocation, ombudsmen will provide residents with information about other facilities. They don’t recommend particular homes, but help people decide what type of care in what location might be best for them.
For example, some might choose to move to another city or state where there’s a long-term care home closer to family. In a best-case scenario, residents get to tour a new facility before moving there.
Generally, ombudsmen are in place to ensure residents’ rights are honored.
Russell said that Kansas Masonic Home did submit its closure notification to the state within the 60-day time frame required by the federal government. In the past, the state has had issues with some long-term care homes closing too quickly and creating confusion and difficulty for residents and families.
That’s not the case with Kansas Masonic Home, Russell said.
“We don’t anticipate we’re going to have a lot of issues with this home,” she said.
When a long-term care facility plans to close and relocate residents, it is required to submit a plan to the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services. Once the state approves the plan, the facility gives at least a 60-day minimum notice ahead of the anticipated closure date.
A spokesperson for the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services declined to provide The Eagle a copy of the closure plan for Kansas Masonic Home.
“Kansas Masonic Home is currently outside the 60-day window before closure date so, at this time, they are the only party with the authority to share a copy of the submitted closure plan,” the spokesperson said in an email.