Two to three months ago, Celeste Tracy of Aquebogue began hearing rumors that the skilled nursing clinic at Riverhead’s Peconic Bay Medical Center was closing.
His father has been a resident of the facility since September 2021.
Tracy’s worst fears were confirmed on November 8, when the hospital held a meeting for patients and families to announce that the skilled nursing clinic, which currently has 12 full-time residents in addition to non-resident patients, would close at the beginning of the year. next.
“It made everyone worse off,” Tracy said. “And as of today, since that meeting, we are all fighting.”
It reflects the sentiments of 179 people who have since signed a change.org petition urging the hospital to keep the facility open.
“In my opinion, [their decision] jeopardizes his oath to care for everyone,” said Ms. Tracy.
The 60-bed skilled nursing facility has been open since 1985 and will close on Jan. 6, according to a letter the hospital administration sent to patients and their families on Nov. 10.
PBMC Executive Director Amy Loeb said the decision was not taken lightly.
“Obviously this was a difficult decision for us,” she said. “And there are many reasons behind this. The business of skilled nursing facilities has changed dramatically over the past two years. We have skilled nursing facilities that are not full, and in addition, you have variable reimbursements [from Medicare]taking patients home rather than to the facility.”
Another factor that influenced the decision was the expansion of the hospital in recent years, which, according to Loeb, created the need to increase its capacity in other areas of health.
🇧🇷[The hospital has] grew up in a trauma center. Now we can care for patients with heart attacks and perform life-saving procedures. We have growth in cancer treatment and, in general, [in] the acute care that the hospital has. The community has really responded and we keep getting busier and busier,” said Ms. Loeb. “We need to increase bed capacity so that we can continue to meet community needs and develop more services and programs that no one else can offer.”
She added that there are beds available at other facilities in the community “that can absolutely provide the care” that PBMC patients need. Management is working to help current SNF patients move and find services elsewhere.
“We are working individually with these patients and their families, caregivers or close relatives or whoever their decision-making partner is to find an appropriate place for them,” said Loeb. “We fully recognize that this is a very important transition that we want to minimize the stress on, and we will be following up with these patients.”
Mrs. Loeb added that the hospital has entered into a “value-based quality agreement” with the Acadia Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, located about a mile from the PBMC, to help the facility’s patients through the transition.
Under a value-based quality arrangement, an insurer can reimburse healthcare providers with incentive payments for the quality of care provided to their patients.
“Our nursing home administrator is spending significant time at Acadia in partnership to ensure that the standards for which the Peconic Bay Skilled Nursing Clinic is known, [that] our residents can expect the same there,” said Loeb. “It is another five-star unit and, therefore, patients who choose to go there will have long-term follow-up by our team.”
Mrs. Tracy said she is awaiting confirmation from a different facility to see if her father will be accepted as a resident there.
Many staff from the skilled nursing unit have already transferred to other positions within the PBMC, said Ms. Loeb.
“We were able to transition a lot of these employees to the hospital and that was a huge help for the hospital and a good transition for those who wanted to try something new,” she said.
Mrs. Loeb said the hospital is in active discussion to determine how the skilled nursing facility’s 20,000 square feet of space will be used.
“There is work that needs to be done where we submit and work with the state on what this becomes,” she said. “It’s a little premature to talk in detail about what this is, but certainly the idea here is to increase acute care capacity and our growth in programs will continue to be in the areas of cardiology, women’s health, cancer care, etc.”