Families worry about retirement home closing, finding new homes during coronavirus response

Nursing Home Investigations

AUSTIN (KXAN) — As coronavirus spreads through senior living communities, Mike and Sally Kettering were already worried about his elderly mother. Now, they have to find a new place for her to live.

“There’s a lot of issues,” Sally said. “The timing, trying to go in and check out places to make sure that they are a good fit and a safe place… there’s a lot.”

About nine months ago, they helped Mike’s mom move into Park Place Retirement Home in Georgetown. Mike said it was a tough decision, but they needed extra help to keep her safe and healthy.

“It’s small, single-story,” Mike said. “Right price, really nice people. The staff there has been exceptional. The director, everybody has been wonderful as far as care. They really have created a family atmosphere that everyone feels comfortable with.”

Until this month, when someone from Chosen Healthcare, the parent company of Park Place, called to let them know the facility would be closing.

“Shocked,” Mike said.

The Ketterings, and other families who spoke with KXAN, were told residents would need to move out by mid-June — just 45 days from when they got the call. However, they still haven’t received written notice of the closure or an official deadline to move-out.

A spokesperson for the Texas Health and Human Services Commission said facilities must give residents and families written notice of a closure, 30 days in advance.

They said nursing homes must submit formal notice to the state before closing, but assisted living facilities, like this one, do not have any formal closure reporting requirements.

A spokesperson for Chosen Healthcare said, “Park Place Assisted Living is anticipating a closure, but no date has been set. The comfort and safety of our residents remains our top priority, and we will provide residents and their families ample time and support as they make future arrangements.”

Sally said they’ve been calling around, and even with more time, they’ve found it difficult to make other arrangements because of COVID-19.

“All of these places we are checking out, you can’t go in and see the room. You can’t go in and check out the place to see if it’s a safe, warm and welcoming environment for your loved one,” she said.

So far, Park Place hasn’t reported any positive cases of COVID-19 to families. Sally worries about moving Rosemary out of that safe environment.

Plus, many facilities they’ve considered aren’t accepting new residents currently. Others have several restrictions, including testing and 14-day quarantines.

“A couple of the places say, ‘You’d have to drop her furniture off outside for 24 hours. We disinfect it and then bring it in,’” Sally explained.

Mike worries about how this will affect his mom’s mild dementia.

“It’s almost like, you drop them off on their doorstep, and then they are going to move them in. And with these 90-year-old people, it takes a little acclimation time,” he said.

The Ketterings said they understand if the company is having financial issues. In fact, they’d be willing to pay more to let Rosemary stay there and avoid the stress of a move.

“Why do it right now? What’s the purpose of getting it done in the middle of a pandemic? When we’re dropping off a 91-year-old woman who experiences dementia and who can’t have her family around her, can’t have them move her in and help her navigate the new halls?” Sally asked.

Chosen Healthcare did not respond to KXAN’s questions about why the facility was closing.

Sally said they are heartbroken for the staff at Park Place, who’ve become like family. They just want more answers.

“The hardest thing to see is Chosen Health’s manner in which they’ve handled this,” Mike said. “I realize they are a private company, its a private facility. They have every right to run their business how they need to run it, but it’s just how this has been done.”

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