Valley Meadows set to close

GARDNERVILLE - Valley Meadows Care Center is reported to be closing next month, after months of turmoil in which it survived legal wranglings, abrupt resignations and state sanctions.

The Gardnerville elderly-care center's 100 staff members were told at a 2 p.m. meeting Tuesday that the center would close by Dec. 23, if not earlier, for lack of money.

The center's 65 residents will be told of the closure today, a staff member who attended the meeting said.

News of the closure follows a string of setbacks.

Earlier in the month, Jim Heinzen, the center's administrator abruptly resigned.

On Nov 12, the state cited the center for substandard care and imposed a freeze on new patient admissions. On Nov. 19, a federal ban on Medicare admissions took effect. The majority of the center's patients are Medicare recipients.

The admission ban put the center in an all too familiar situation.

When the number of patients drops below 107, the center cannot cover its costs and loses money, Heinzen has said.

Premier Health Care Services was ousted from managing the care center last October when it reneged on rent payments and repayments on a $1 million loan from Carson Tahoe Hospital. At that time the hospital owned the operating license.

David Holmberg, Premier's director of operations, has said he was unable to break even and had cash flow problems because of a low census.

A little after one year later, the same problem has snookered Valley Meadows Living Center Inc. - the name of the employee-owned group that brought the group out of receivership.

"As far as I can tell, we cannot turn the corner. We're employee owned and our funds have run out," said Ted Tackett, a Valley Meadows nursing assistant for the past five years.

"I called work to confirm the rumor and the receptionist confirmed it," Tackett said.

An employee who attended the meeting said staff members were told it's over.

"We have no money and that's it," she said. "I've been here years and I'm very concerned for the patients. The holiday season is a very tough time of the year for them."

Word of the closure comes six days after David Pumphrey, a partner in PDQ Limited Partnership, which owns the Valley Meadows building, vowed to keep the center open.

Speaking from his home Tuesday, Pumphrey said he had not heard about the pending closure.

"I know nothing about the care center closing down. I would hope that it is not true, but I've not been out there for four or five days," Pumphrey said.

"I would do everything in my power to prevent that (the closure) from happening, but no, I can't control what they (Valley Meadows employees) decide to do. It's up to them."

In September, Pumphrey's group announced that Multicare Management, a Cleveland-based company, would manage the center because of concerns about the employees' long-term solvency.

Pumphrey would not confirm Tuesday if negotiations with Multicare Management were ongoing.


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