DESHLER — The Oak Grove Healthcare Center is in the process of shutting down and relocating patients.

Fred Stratmann, general counsel, chief compliance and privacy officer of the facility’s home company, CommuniCare Family of Companies, headquartered in Cincinnati, confirmed the closing Thursday.

He said the resident census was down to around 22, which was one of the major reasons for the closure.

“We were having great difficulty keeping our census up and maintaining good, quality staff,” Stratmann said.

The announcement was made Monday and Stratmann said state requirements mandate the facility remain open 60 days from the announcement.

Deb Jackson, secretary of the Deshler Chamber of Commerce, said she heard as of Thursday morning the facility was down to about seven residents.

Stratmann pointed to a recent article in the New York Times highlighting problems of nursing facilities in rural areas. The article stated more than 440 nursing facilities across the country have closed or merged in rural areas over the last 10 years.

Many of the closures, according to the article, are due to changes in health policy that encourage people to choose independent or assisted living, or to stay in their own homes with aid from caregivers.

Many facilities grapple with finding steady workers. In addition, more patients are having their long-term care covered by Medicaid, which in many states doesn’t pay enough to cover expenses.

Stratmann said CommuniCare Family of Companies continues to consider other options concerning the building.

“We always look at selling, but looking at the financials we feel that any buyer would likely come to the same conclusion,” Stratmann said.

“We haven’t ruled out re-purposing the building,” he added.

He said the company recently closed another facility in Springfield, Ohio, and converted that building to a substance abuse recovery center. Two other recently closed facilities in the state were made mental health facilities.

Stratmann said Oak Grove’s staffing was at about 50, and the company has offered to let anyone who is interested to remain with the company, though the nearest facilities are in Toledo and Celina, Ohio.

CommuiCare Family of Companies also has locations in Indiana, Maryland, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia.

Oak Grove Healthcare Center is a skilled nursing facility offering short-term recovery, senior rehabilitation services and long-term care and programming.

Email comments to briank@northwestsignal.net

I started at the Northwest Signal in 1994 and became editor in 2004. I graduated from Bowling Green State University in 1994.

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