Last chance for Estes Park Health Living Center: Board sets closure vote for nursing home

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Tara Schulze, left, celebrates her mother Zorah Hurd's 80th birthday at Estes Park Health Living Center. Estes Park Health System, which owns the center, is considering closing it down amid financial woes brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The future of Estes Park Health Living Center will become clearer Tuesday when the board of directors considers a resolution to close the 52-bed facility. 

The resolution, the first of two readings, comes after 16 meetings over five months between the board, senior leadership team and community in an attempt to find a financially viable approach to keep the center open.

Such an approach has not been identified, according to the board.

The board has maintained the nursing home has been bleeding money for 15 years, with losses exacerbated by the pandemic.

The facility, which is about half full, is not expected to staunch the revenue loss anytime soon, the resolution states. 

Despite third-party efforts to find a third party to operate the nursing home, no good option was found, according to the resolution. 

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 “While EPHLC may have been the right size in 1984 when it was created, it is currently too small to be financially viable in the current competitive nursing home environment 36 years later,” the resolution states.

The number of residents has been declining over the years and a high percent of current residents are on Medicaid, which generally reimburses about 70% of the cost of providing services, according to the resolution.

If the board approves the resolution Tuesday, it will be followed by a second reading and vote on Feb. 1. After that, a closure and transfer plan will be submitted to the state Department of Public Health and Environment’s health facilities and emergency medical services division.  

Once that plan is approved, the center could close within 60 days. 

For more information and to read the resolution, visit eph.org/ephlcresolution.htm.

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Pat Ferrier is a senior reporter covering business, health care and growth issues in Northern Colorado. Contact her at patferrier@coloradoan.com. Please support her work and that of other Coloradoan journalists by purchasing a subscription today.