‘Devastating’ closure of rural nursing home comes despite gov’t attempt to find buyer

The Feds have scared off another skilled nursing facility operator and, thereby, leaving a rural community with limited options to care for its elderly, frail population.

The sole nursing home in a rural pocket of New Mexico has closed weeks after state efforts to transfer ownership fell short.

Preferred Care Partners Management Group, the operator of Preferred Care-owned Sunshine Haven, announced a pending closure in June but finished resident moves far ahead of a given August 3 deadline.

State and local officials tried working with Preferred Care and other New Mexico operators to keep the facility open, either as is or by selling sell to another provider.

“I personally worked with Department of Health staff from January to June to try to find an alternative to avoid Sunshine Haven’s owners’ decision to close down the facility altogether,” Department of Health Secretary Kathy Kunkel told the Sun-News. “We reached out to other skilled nursing care companies to find alternative management for the Lordsburg facility, but were not successful.”

In a news release, Hidalgo County Manager Trisha Green called the closure “devastating,” noting that it would displace 37 residents and 80 employees. Some residents were moved to facilities outside of New Mexico. Lordsburg is about 20 minutes east of the Arizona border.

“All of us recognize both the economic impact on the community and the emotional impact on local families, and I have personally expressed both our regrets for the loss as well as our commitment to continue to work with city and county leaders to find new alternatives,” Kunkel told the newspaper.

She met last week with community, state and federal officials to try to map out a plan for future patients in need of long-term care.

Lt. Gov. Howie Morales said his administration wants to help Lordsburg (population 2,464) find solutions that could serve as a model elsewhere.

By Kimberly Marselas, McKnight’s Long Term Care News