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Colorado Springs nursing home is 11th to close in state since pandemic started

A Colorado Springs nursing home is the latest in the state to close as empty beds continue to put financial pressure on facilities.

Integrated Health Services at Colorado Springs, better known as Parkmoor Village Health Care Center, notified the state earlier this summer that it will lay off all 144 of its employees when it closes on Aug. 22.

The facility is the 11th nursing home to close in Colorado since 2020 as COVID-19 put extraordinary strain on the industry. Doug Farmer, president and CEO of the Colorado Health Care Association, said that in the three years before the pandemic, only four nursing homes closed in the state.

“That’s a very unusual number for a two-year period,” he said of the 11 closures.

Heather TerHark, vice president of ancillary services at long-term care chain Vivage, said all of Parkmoor’s residents were transferred to other homes in late July, and most employees already have found new jobs. Vivage manages 30 long-term care facilities in Colorado, in addition to Parkmoor.

TerHark said the closure was due to staffing shortages and increased costs, which weren’t sustainable given the rates paid by Medicaid.

Parkmoor had been cited for insufficient care during inspections in March and May, but follow-up visits showed the problems had been corrected. In the inspection documents, employees noted they were short-staffed and relying on temporary workers, who didn’t always know what residents needed.

In April, the American Health Care Association reported 327 nursing homes had closed nationwide in the two years of the pandemic. That’s a slightly faster pace than in the prior years, when 776 closed from 2015 to 2019.

Normally, about 82% of beds in Colorado nursing homes would be full on any given day, Farmer said. At the worst point during the onset of the pandemic in 2020, that dropped to about 65%, before partially rebounding to about 72%, he said.

The problem is that some of the costs of running a nursing home don’t drop when there are fewer residents, since every facility still needs an administrator and positions like a head of infection control, Farmer said. And in many cases, it’s not possible to fill those beds now, because homes can’t hire enough direct-care staff to assist additional residents, he said.

“No matter how many (residents) you have in your building, there are certain positions you have to have,” he said.

As of late June, about 35% of nursing homes in Colorado had filled fewer than 70% of their beds, making them vulnerable to closure, Farmer said. Those with more patients with Medicaid are doubly vulnerable, because it pays less than commercial insurance, he said.

Colorado’s Medicaid program pays about $250 per day, which is meant to cover all expenses other than hospital stays and visits to medical specialists, Farmer said. Critics of the nursing home industry, particularly for-profit facilities, argue that the problem isn’t rates, but how the money is spent.

“Those that do a lot of Medicaid business are at a disadvantage,” he said.

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