WESTERLY — More than 30 patients of the Apple Rehab nursing home in Watch Hill must find new accommodations following the facility’s announcement that it will soon close.
The facility informed its patients and their families on Tuesday of its imminent closure. Workers who requested not to be identified said they were notified late last week.
Annemarie Beardsworth, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Health, which regulates nursing homes in Rhode Island, said representatives of the facility notified the department of an intent to close the facility “due to registered nurse staffing issues.” The facility has submitted a closure plan that was approved by the state Health Department, Beardsworth said.
Apple Rehab Watch Hill has 60 beds and 33 residents. It is one of the two Apple facilities in Westerly. Avon, Connecticut is the corporate headquarters of Apple Rehab. The firm owns more than 20 nursing facilities — all but the two in Westerly are in Connecticut.
Beardsworth explained that the state Department of Health is overseeing the closure process. It will work with residents and their family to find a new place, provide an opportunity for them to visit other facilities of concern, arrange for the transfer of residents’ belongings and offer counseling to prepare them for a smooth transition.
Beardsworth stated that the state’s long term care ombudsman will be involved in helping to find new homes for residents, taking into account both their choices and needs. She said that the state Department of Health will be monitoring the facility throughout the closure plan. They may also make unannounced visits.
Many nursing homes have been fighting the COVID-9 epidemic since its inception. The COVID-19 pandemic struck in December at both the Apple Clipper Rehab facility in Westerly and the Apple Rehab facility Watch Hill. According to records and facilities maintained by federal and state agencies, all but two residents of each facility tested positive for the virus during December.
In 2019, a Westerly land records agreement gives 75 Watch Hill Road LLC, managed by Thomas P. Sculco the right of first refusal if the 2.26-acre Apple Rehab property needs to be sold or transferred. 75 Watch Hill Road LLC bought 75 Watch Hill Road, next to the nursing home property, at the same time as the right of first refusal agreement. Both properties are located on the banks the Pawcatuck River.
The exact closing date is unknown. Apple’s corporate offices did not respond to messages on Monday and Wednesday requesting clarification and comment. The corporate office also declined to comment on December’s article about the COVID-19 virus outbreak.