Wareham Healthcare to close in July

Apr 12, 2021

Following the expiration of the lease for its facility, Wareham Healthcare — a 175-bed nursing home located at 50 Indian Neck Rd. and operated by Next Step Healthcare — will close in about four months.

Wareham Healthcare’s residents will need to relocate before the facility’s proposed closure date of July 28, but the company has committed to providing assistance in finding alternative care.

The company said employees were offered the chance to remain with the company and retain their seniority by transferring to other facilities Next Step Healthcare operates.

Resident relocation

Wareham Healthcare will help its residents and their families find “appropriate placements” for residents in alternative healthcare facilities that are “capable of meeting” residents’ needs, according to a document submitted to the state titled “Proposed Closure Plan for Wareham Healthcare” (attached to this story as a PDF).

The closure plan detailed the steps Wareham Healthcare would take to assist residents with relocation, beginning with contacting nearby skilled nursing facilities to determine what specialized care they offer and whether or not beds are available. Once gathered, the company plans to pass that information along to residents and their families.

The closure plan says that Wareham and its neighboring towns “have a substantial supply of licensed long term care placements available.” In particular, the plan singles out one additional “skilled nursing facility” in Wareham — presumably, The Tremont Rehabilitation and Skilled Care Center — and five more in Plymouth and Middleborough combined.

In total, medicare.gov data shows 23 nursing homes within 15 miles of Wareham — which is another statistic the proposed closure plan mentions.

Wareham Healthcare said it would help residents and their families prepare for the facility’s closure by providing counseling in addition to relocation assistance. 

“We will provide individual and group meetings to prepare the residents for the transfer options and process, including psychological preparation or counseling of each resident as necessary,” the closure plan reads.

Wareham Healthcare’s residents were notified that the facility would be closing on March 30, when it was posted at the facility and sent to residents by hand or by mail.

Options for employees

In a statement (also attached as a PDF), Next Step Healthcare praised Wareham Healthcare employees’ diligent care and adherence to covid-19 protocols during the ongoing pandemic. 

“With several affiliated locations in close proximity to the facility, we have extended offers to employees to remain with the company and transfer within the organization retaining their seniority, which ranges from [...] less than one year to 32 years working in the facility,” the statement said.

It is unclear where employees would be transferred. Next Step Healthcare operates skilled nursing homes in Massachusetts — including one in Plymouth, Middleboro and Fall River — and Maine.

Reasons for closure

A primary factor in deciding to close Wareham Healthcare was the landlord’s refusal to renew the facility’s lease or sell the property to Next Step Healthcare, according to the company’s statement.

Next Step Healthcare also cited a recent mandate for increased staffing levels without Medicaid reimbursement as a reason for the facility’s closure:

“This unfunded increase in staffing expense, combined with the elevated operating costs necessitated by the pandemic, and accompanied by severely reduced revenues resulting from lower occupancy in skilled nursing facilities contributed to the landlord’s decision to close the Facility and utilize the physical real estate for alternate endeavors.”

In August 2020, MassHealth sent Wareham Healthcare a termination notice failing to meet the standards and requirements set by the state during the pandemic and for a historic record of poor performance.

On Medicare’s five-star rating system, the facility received one star in 2017, 2019 and 2021. Medicare ratings are based on health inspections, staffing and quality of resident care measures. ProPublica’s Nursing Home Inspect database also shows the facility has a record of fines and deficiencies going back to at least 2019. 

Although Wareham Healthcare’s lease for the facility expired Feb. 28, the company said the landlord agreed to extend the lease long enough to allow “sufficient time to complete the closure process.” 

The proposed closure plan says, “The Facility will close on or about July 28, 2001,” which is likely a typo meant to read “2021.”

A Department of Public Health public hearing will be held on Wednesday, April 21, but the time and location are not yet known.