Premier Estates of Fremont is one of three Nebraska nursing homes expected to close in early August.
Trillium Healthcare Group, based in Bradenton, Florida, recently notified residents and staff at Premier Estates that it plans to close its senior care facilities in Fremont, Crete and West Point.
Steve Marhee, Trillium’s vice president of operations, confirmed the closings and said there is a 60-day process during which the company will work to help residents find other homes. At the time that Trillium announced the closure, there were 55 residents at Premier Estates of Fremont.
The closing in Fremont was also confirmed by Mayor Scott Getzschman during the most recent Fremont City Council meeting during which he shared with the council a notice he received from Trillium which is required when companies lay off a certain number of workers and/or close locations.
“It certainly isn’t good news,” he said.
The notice stated that Premier Estates will close on Aug. 6 and that all 43 employees in administration, nursing, housekeeping, maintenance, laundry and ancillary departments will be affected. Employees at Premiere Estates are not represented by a union.
Getzschman also quelled rumors that the closing was due to Premier Estates being bought out by another senior care company.
“I would also say that they are not closing, because they are being bought; I already heard that rumor this evening and it’s not going to become something else,” he said. “Right now, it’s closing because the nursing home business is going through some very difficult times.”
Both Marhee, and employees at Premier Estates in Fremont, deferred questions about the closing to the Nebraska Health Care Association, a trade group that represents more than 90% of the senior care companies operating in the state.
NHCA President and CEO Heath Boddy said the closings were because of two main factors: difficulty finding workers to keep the facilities fully staffed and operating losses because of low Medicaid reimbursement rates.
He said the Medicaid reimbursement rate per patient on average is about $36 per day less than the facilities’ costs.
“It’s really tough from a business standpoint to do that,” Boddy said.
More than 140 people will lose their jobs as a result of the closings, according to filings with the Nebraska Department of Labor.
The filings show 64 people will lose their jobs in Crete, 43 in Fremont and 35 in West Point.
Boddy said Trillium has held job fairs at the Crete location and will most likely hold similar events in Fremont. The company has also worked with other nearby senior facilities to try to help affected workers find jobs.
“The silver lining is we have such pressure in this business from a workforce perspective that it would be hard to imagine those team members couldn’t join up with another company in the area,” Boddy said. “It’s never a good situation, nobody likes to be here, but from what we’ve seen with Trillium they are doing a nice job of helping people transition.”
Premier Estates of Fremont is on the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services list of Special Focus Facilities, which are nursing homes with a poor inspection record. It is the only Nebraska facility on the list.
Boddy said he did not have any information suggesting that played a role in the facility’s closure.
According to Boddy, 84 percent of the residents at the Trillium properties that are closing relied on Medicaid for their care.
Boddy says almost immediately after the original announcement was made, Trillium began the process of reaching out to other local senior care facilities.
“The team at Trillium has started connecting with their peers in other locations and they will start making connections as far as meeting with residents, and making sure they fit into those facilities care models,” he said.
Based off of similar situations in the past, Boddy says he expects that a large percentage of the residents at all three Trillium locations have either already been moved or have made commitments to move to different facilities.
“My guess would be they probably have a significant portion of their customers committed or already moved just based on how I’ve seen this happen before,” he said.
The Premier Estates closings come on the heels of several nursing homes and assisted-living facilities in the state that closed. These facilities were owned by Cottonwood Healthcare, also known as Skyline.
That company’s 21 homes were put into receivership last year after it ran into financial problems, and the receiver has since closed facilities in Omaha, Norfolk, Grand Island, Sidney, Schuyler, Wausa and Broken Bow.