UPDATE | Nursing home patients moved after facility closes due to payroll issues

Published: Jun. 20, 2019 at 3:29 PM EDT
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UPDATE 6/21/19 @ 7:55 p.m.

The immediate and sudden closure of the River’s Bend Health Care facility in Burlington, Ohio was “directly related to the facility’s failure to fulfill payroll obligations to its staff,” according to the Ohio Department of Aging.

The nursing home closed abruptly Thursday, forcing more than 55 residents to be transferred to other facilities.

A majority of them were moved out of the facility on Thursday. The rest were moved out on Friday, according to the Department of Aging.

A caravan of ambulances helped moved the remaining residents out on Friday.

WSAZ spoke with some of the employees who were still at the facility Friday.

One worker says she was alerted to the closure of the facility Thursday morning.

“We were working, and out of nowhere they came and said, 'hey, we have to close the doors,' ” said Jennifer Thomas.

Another worker said she had come to pick up her paycheck when she found out.

“Considering I was off, it was a bit devastating,” said Heidi Matney. “Come to get my paycheck and find this out. Once I found out the doors were shutting, I wasn't worried about the money. I was more worried about where my people were going.”

Many of the employees who were there Friday were helping get the remaining patients transferred to other facilities.

Linda Marsh, whose brother was being cared for at the facility, says he was moved to a facility in Gallipolis.

“I was just so concerned for him because it's just so hard on his body,” Marsh said. “I worried about how he was going to manage the trip.”

She says her brother has been at the facility since 2014 and they had never experienced any problems before.

The Ohio Department of Aging released a statement Friday about the closure of the facility. To see that statement in full, read the article below.

The department says they will be meeting with residents who have been moved and their families to make sure their needs are being met.

Many of the families WSAZ spoke with on Friday say they are now just focused on making sure their loved ones are cared for, while employees say they will now be searching for new work.

“It’s starting to hit me,” Thomas said. “I came in this morning and most everybody was gone. But tomorrow when I wake up and don't come into work, it’ll probably hit me, you know missing working with everybody and taking care of everybody.”

Employees say they were supposed to be paid Thursday and weren’t.

The Ohio State Health Department says that is an issue that is between management and employees. Management at the facility declined to comment.

UPDATE 6/21/19 @ 5:10 p.m.

The abrupt closure Thursday of a nursing home in Burlington, Ohio, was related to the facility not being able to meet its payroll, the Ohio Department of Aging said Friday.

“Yesterday’s announcement of an immediate closure of the River’s Bend Health Care nursing facility in Lawrence County is directly related to the facility’s failure to fulfill payroll obligations to its staff," the agency said in a news release.

Nearly 55 patients were displaced Thursday from River's Bend Health Care, many of them moved to other facilities then. Nearly a dozen patients were still being moved on Friday.

“We share the concerns of many about the major disruptions this immediate action causes in the lives of residents and their loved ones," Ursel McElroy, director of the Ohio Department of Aging, said in the news release. "We are working together with community, state and federal resources to assist in the transfer of residents to other long-term care facilities or to return them to homes."

McElroy said the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, the Ohio Department of Veterans Services and the Ohio Department of Medicaid are also providing assistance.

“We are working in a collaborative manner with one goal -- to have all residents of River’s Bend safely relocated today. It is our practice that all residents who have been moved will have a personal meeting with an ombudsman and their families, to assure that needs and preferences are being met. The Long-Term Care Ombudsman program is available at 1-800-282-1206," McElroy said in the release.

She continued, "We are grateful to the residents’ families who have also responded quickly and assisted with identifying alternate living arrangements, helping to pack and move their loved one’s belongings. We also acknowledge that several of River’s Bend staff members are working without compensation to provide care and assist residents during this time.”

Keep checking the WSAZ app for the latest information.

UPDATE 6/21/19 @ 1:30 p.m.

More than a dozen patients at a nursing home in Burlington are still being moved out after the facility abruptly closed this week.

Ambulances from all over were lined up at River's Bend Health Care again Friday moving patients to other facilities. Families were also there trying to remove their loved ones' belongings.

The Ohio Department of Health says the facility shut down abruptly Thursday because of financial issues, forcing about 55 patients out of this nursing home. The closure also forced their families to try and make plans on where to take them and what to do.

Employees say they were told Thursday morning the facility was shutting down. They also told us they were supposed to get paid that day, but didn't.

The Ohio Department of Health says they can't comment on whether the employees will get paid. They say that is up to the facility and management declined to comment.

Keep checking the WSAZ app for more information.

UPDATE 6/20/19 @ 7 p.m.

It was an emotional, frantic day at one nursing home, as workers and their patients learned it was abruptly shutting down.

The Ohio Department of Health says River's Bend Health Care in Burlington shut down because of financial issues, forcing as many as 55 patients to be placed elsewhere.

Family members of patients were upset and shocked it happened so suddenly without warning.

Kristin Bick's mother Carolyn had lived at the facility a year and a half.

"It's the saddest thing I've ever seen," Kristin said. "These little people are so lost."

"It makes me mad," Kristin's husband David said. "She doesn't deserve it. It's very sad."

"I'm just a nervous wreck because she was so upset," Kristin said.

Employees say at 11 a.m., they were told the facility was shutting down, and they were doing an emergency evacuation for the patients.

"It's very upsetting," nursing assistant Christina Knisley said. "It's not even the fact that we're losing our jobs or not getting paychecks. It's the fact that this is these people's homes, and they're just being up and run out of their homes."

Several have said they were not even notified by the facility their loved ones were being moved.

"We received no phone call at all from anyone," David said. "We found out through my stepdaughter."

Employees say there'd been rumors something like this could happen, but administrators told them over the past couple weeks everything was fine. Workers and family members of patients say they haven't gotten an explanation for why this is happening.

The health department and state agencies are helping move patients to other facilities.

"They were just sending them everywhere from Huntington to Ironton to Wheelersburg to Portsmouth," Wendy Short said.

Short says she'd helped place her elderly neighbor Faye there after her husband died.

"She's upset because these people are like family to her now," Short said.

Short says Faye called her at 2 p.m. and said she was being moved. Short says she left her job early to get Faye and bring her home.

"I'm pretty upset because I just don't understand how you don't notify people," Short said.

Relatives say their hearts also go out to patients who don't have family close by to help them through this.

Employees say they were supposed to get paid Thursday, but they didn't.

Management at the facility declined to comment.


As many as 55 nursing home patients are displaced Thursday after the facility suddenly closed, the Ohio Department of Health says.

River’s Bend Health Care shut down after reported financial issues, the state health department says.

The agency also reports that the facility, located in the Burlington/South Point area, should have notified the state health department 90 days ago about the closure.

The health department, along with the Ohio Department of Aging and the Ohio Department of Medicaid, are onsite working with families to help place residents into other facilities.

We have a crew at the scene. Keep checking the WSAZ app for the latest information.