Dowagiac Nursing Home Residents Take Court Action To Stay

By: Marcie Kobriger Email
By: Marcie Kobriger Email

Residents of Dowagiac nursing home will soon be searching for new homes.

On Tuesday night, residents' family members met with state officials to discuss the available options.

As they left Tuesday’s meeting, different people had varying feelings about what was said and what is going to be done.

”The meeting was just a small meeting. It wasn’t very informative," said Larry Joyner, whose father lives at the nursing home.

Edward Bemis, whose wife is a resident sees things differently.

”Everyone had a chance to vent their feelings. What questions I had were answered very well,” Bemis said.

Bobby Foster, whose wife is a resident, left before the meeting was over.

“The state of Michigan, I think, should have tried to find somebody who would have taken over instead of shutting them down,” said Foster.

One option for relocation is across the state line at South Bend's St. Joseph Care Center.

Management says they could take in as many as 30 patients and 20 employees who may be displaced as the Dowagiac Nursing Home closes.

“We are looking at possibly putting the residents that are coming from Dowagiac in a specific location here in the facility and also matching them up with some of the employees that have been providing care for them over the years. That way, we can help keep this transition as smooth as possible,” said Richard Kennedy, the facility's administrator.

For now, the patients remain in Dowagiac and according to the state they will stay here for the next three or four weeks, until their families are able to find them good homes.

But, if some residents have anything to say about it, they will stay put for good.

”The residents themselves have standing and have the right to bring an emergency action to circuit court,” explained Andrew Rothman, an attorney who will represent ten residents and their legal guardian.

A lawyer for the owner of the building says the state forced the closure because of financial problems.

One of the facility's former operators left, owing 1.3 million dollars in provider taxes.

If the judge grants the injunction on Wednesday, it would stop the Department of Health from terminating the current license until a new operator could be licensed to take over.

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