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Carthage Area Hospital completes closure of skilled-nursing facility

The main entrance to the former skilled-nursing unit at Carthage Area Hospital, for which the nonprofit has completed the closure process. (Photo provided by Carthage Area Hospital)

CARTHAGE, N.Y. — Carthage Area Hospital has completed the closure of its skilled-nursing unit, a process it had announced in June.

The hospital turned its operating certificate over to the New York State Department of Health “nearly three weeks ahead of its projected schedule and delivering on a commitment to help keep affected residents in the region,” the organization said in a news release issued Wednesday.

Carthage Area Hospital recently transferred the last of the unit’s 23 residents. That transfer completed a process that began June 19 and involved members of the hospital’s skilled-nursing unit, social-work services, therapy services, accounting departments, and senior administration.


The hospital made all resident transfers to facilities in Jefferson and Lewis counties, the hospital said. Facilities that accepted residents for care included Samaritan Health in Watertown, Lewis County General Hospital & Residential Health Care Facility in Lowville, and Country Manor Nursing and Rehabilitation Centre in Carthage.

“We sincerely appreciate the understanding of our residents and their family members,” Rich Duvall, CEO of Carthage Area Hospital, said in the release. “We would not have succeeded without their trust and patience during a time of uncertainty and change.”

The hospital’s decision to close the skilled-nursing unit, “while extremely difficult,” was also “necessary to strengthen the long-term sustainability of our hospital,” according to Duvall.

He also noted in the release that the capacity of local facilities to accept transfers from Carthage Area Hospital also “proves prudent” the decision to close the skilled-nursing unit and “eliminate redundancy” in the market, “allowing more modern facilities to operate with greater occupancy.”

The hospital’s closure plan calls for staff from the hospital’s social-work services department to continue weekly resident follow up for 30 days after transfer to “ensure residents have properly adjusted and no longer need assistance from the hospital.”

Carthage Area Hospital said it closed the unit in part because the “numerous” regulations that nursing homes must follow “tightened financial pressures” on the facility.

“Escalating” costs had also driven smaller skilled nursing homes “without economies of scale to evaluate efficiencies and make difficult business decisions.”

That, combined with “declining” cost-based reimbursement for services provided to nursing-home residents, made the decision to close the skilled-nursing unit “essential,” the hospital contended.


Employees in new roles

Carthage Area Hospital said it presented each of the skilled-nursing unit’s 24 employees with the opportunity to stay and be reassigned within the hospital. Only one employee chose to leave, per the release.

The remaining employees of the skilled-nursing unit have filled various openings throughout several different departments at Carthage Area Hospital and are presently working in their new positions while also receiving training, the hospital said.

At the same time, Carthage Area Hospital is finalizing plans with architects for “adaptive reuse” of the former skilled-nursing unit as clinical space.

Mandates included in New York State’s delivery-system reform incentive-payment (DSRIP) program call for a shift in clinical-space utilization to a “medical village” concept.

That has helped to guide the decision-making process and determine what new or existing services the space will house, the hospital added.

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