AMHERST TWP. — Lorain County commissioners are shutting down the county-run Golden Acres Nursing Home.
The commissioners voted to close the facility, which has been in operation in two different locations since 1868, at a meeting Wednesday, and county Administrator Jim Cordes said the decision had to be made because the county home is losing money.
“If we don’t do it now, you’re going to have to put it on life support from the general fund,” he said.
The county home, which moved to its current location on North Ridge Road in 1967 from its original site where the Lorain County Jail now sits, once had a small levy that expired in 1997, according to a history of the facility provided by the county.
Since then, it has been a self-funded facility, including through Medicaid reimbursements, but it is losing money.
According to the county’s annual financial report, the home’s budget was around $3.6 million last year, but it had expenditures of about $4.5 million, leaving a deficit of nearly $851,000. The need for capital improvements, such as repairing a broken elevator, and the dwindling number of residents made keeping the home open unsustainable, Cordes said.
The home has a total of 82 certified beds, including 20 in a specialized Alzheimer’s unit, but only had 44 patients last month when director Jeri Dull sent Cordes an email saying there had been no new admissions in July.
“I do not foresee any admissions coming our way,” Dull, who did not return a call seeking comment, wrote in the Aug. 7 email to Cordes.
County Commissioner Matt Lundy said it was a hard call to close the facility, which has 51 employees, but it was necessary.
“We just want to make sure it’s a comfortable and smooth transition for the residents, and hopefully, the employees can find a soft landing for making this transition,” Lundy said.
Residents and their families were informed of the decision in a letter earlier this week.
A call to the union representing the facility’s workers, who were formally notified of the closure plan Wednesday, was not returned.
In a bit of irony, the commissioners took up the issue of whether to hire a new worker at Golden Acres in an executive session after the meeting, and Cordes noted that the facility still needs employees until it closes.
The county, which still must get state approval for the closure, said in a news release that Golden Acres would cease operations Nov. 25.
The county will also make arrangements to sell its certified beds to other local facilities, something that could prove lucrative for the county. Although Cordes said he couldn’t say exactly what the going rate for those would be, it will likely be thousands of dollars per bed.
The state allows only a certain number of certified beds in a given community, making them a valuable commodity.
Cordes also said the commissioners have yet to decide what it will do with the property, which once housed the county’s tuberculosis sanatorium.
“There are lots of options on the table,” he said.