Westport rehab center closure: What we know
WESTPORT — It has been over a month since the Westport Rehabilitation Complex’s community was met with surprise when learning the place they called home could be closing. The ongoing process has left residents waiting to find out the future of the facility.
Here’s what you need to know.
Why is the rehab center closing?
On May 22, occupants of the Westport Rehabilitation Complex were notified the facility plans to submit a certificate of need application to cease operations. The application will be filed with Connecticut Department of Social Services.
R.B. Bridges, chief operating officer of Traditions Senior Management, said his company took over the property in 2015. However, revenue from the facility has been unable to cover the costs, which he said was mostly wages and benefits.
Bridges said costs unfortunately exceeded the revenues or reimbursement and the difficult decision to close the facility had to be made.
When would the building close and what is the process?
David Dearborn, communications director for DSS, said there is a statutory process governing and how, and if, a skilled nursing facility can close. After a letter of intent is received, his department reviews the CON application and determines whether the facility may close.
Dearborn said the decision depends, in part, on availability of nursing facility beds in the geographical area. Typically requests by nursing facilities to close results in approvals to do so, he said.
During this process, DSS collaborates with the Department of Public Health and also the state Long-Term Care Ombudsman’s office, which is affiliated with the state Department of Rehabilitation Services.
Dearborn said in the event of closure approval, these agencies work together with the facility, residents and family members in discharge and transfer planning. Residents could be relocated to other nursing homes in the area or a community home setting through the state’s “Money Follows the Person” program, he said.
According to DSS member Rich Wysocki a 60-day notice has to be provided to the federal government prior to the facility closing. According to a letter provided to residents the facility looks to cease operations in late 2019.
What is the future for the building?
While a CON application has not been filed yet, the owners of the building may be looking for other uses. A proposal by 1 Burr Road LLC to turn the rehab center into a high-end hotel was given a pre-application review by the Planning and Zoning Commission on June 6.
Leonard Braman, attorney for 1 Burr Road LLC, said the building’s current use did not produce sufficient revenue to allow for major renovations.
Are there potential legal hurdles?
Westport-Weston Probate Judge Lisa Wexler said in a nursing home there can be both voluntary and involuntarily “conserved” residents.
A person is conserved when they cannot properly provide for their own personal needs. According to Connecticut General Statutes 45a-650, when someone is conserved, they are subject to court oversight. One of the things this means is a conserved person cannot be moved anywhere without court approval, Wexler said.
What facilities are nearby for residents?
Traditions Management owns several facilities in the state. The closest would be Long Ridge Post-acute Care in Stamford and Western Rehabilitation Care Center in Danbury. Other facilities include Ludlowe Center for Health Rehabilitation in Fairfield, Cassena Care At Norwalk, and Hancock Hall in Danbury.
Wysocki said at the Westport Rehabilitation Complex’s public hearing on June 26 if the facility closes, residents would have rights that may supersede waiting lists at another facility.
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DJ Simmons, who can be reached at email@example.com