State

Kindred to shutter Modesto long-term care center

Kindred Hospital Modesto will close its doors early next year after efforts to sell the skilled-nursing facility were unsuccessful, its parent company announced Wednesday.

Staff members will meet with patients and their families in the next few days to discuss the process of choosing and relocating to new care facilities, according to a statement released by Kindred Healthcare of Louisville, Ky.

Kindred is eyeing a closure date at the end of January but first must have a closure plan approved by the state and make arrangements to transfer residents to appropriate health care facilities.

"It is our intent to close within 60 days of the state approving our closure plan," the company said in the statement. "However, the final closing date could be sooner or later depending on when every resident is moved to another facility that can take care of their health care needs."

The company said it will help arrange visits to other health care facilities and pay moving expenses.

The nursing facility on 17th Street in downtown Modesto has 64 beds for patients needing long-term care. Kindred did not say how many patients are in the hospital.

The closure will result in job losses for 127 employees, including registered nurses, vocational nurses, nursing assistants and office personnel.

Kindred Healthcare said in September 2008 that it was putting the hospital on the market because it was no longer profitable. Despite extensive efforts, Kindred Healthcare was unable to find another health care provider to purchase the facility, and, "unfortunately, it is no longer feasible for Kindred to continue its operations," the company said Wednesday.

The downtown Modesto building served as Modesto City Hospital for decades. That full-service hospital was purchased by National Medical Enterprises, later renamed Tenet Healthcare Corp., and was converted to provide long-term rehabilitative care in 1993.

It operated as Modesto Rehabilitation Hospital and changed hands again. Kindred Healthcare acquired the then-100-bed hospital five years ago, renaming it Kindred Hospital Modesto.

Under Kindred's management, the facility ran into trouble with regulators in January 2007 after a 44-year-old paraplegic man died from asphyxiation in the long-term acute care unit. His upper torso became trapped under his bed rails.

A state investigation and other inspections led to Kindred losing approval as an acute-care Medicare provider and it closed the 36-bed unit in May 2008. The skilled-nursing section remained open.

Before closing the remainder of the hospital, Kindred must comply with a state-approved closure plan to ensure the safe transfer of residents. Several factors are considered in relocating patients, such as where the patient's family lives and how far the family would have to travel when visiting.

"They have to have a plan for each individual in the facility," Montano said. "They have to comply with all the requirements before they close."

Kindred formally notified the state Tuesday of its intent to close the hospital.

A rapid response team with the Stanislaus County Economic Development and Workforce Alliance hopes to set up a meeting with Kindred officials next week to offer assistance to displaced employees.

The team will provide help with finding new employment and, if needed, retraining displaced workers to upgrade their job skills.

"Given that most of them are skilled health care workers, most of them have skills that are in pretty good demand," said Jeff Rowe, director of the Alliance Worknet. "One area where we have seen continued growth in the economy is health care."

The parent company said that the decision to close Kindred Modesto does not affect its other hospitals and nursing centers in California. It has 11 hospitals, 21 nursing centers and more than 7,500 employees in California.

Bee staff writer Ken Carlson can be reached at kcarlson@modbee.com or 578-2321.

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