The Pawtuxet Village Care and Rehab Center may reopen soon.
The center, which closed its doors voluntarily in April following multiple non-compliance orders and Department of Health, has been vacant since May. Now, the Department of Health has confirmed that Genesis HealthCare, the company that acted as the managing entity of the facility during its final days, is currently involved in a merger and takeover of SunHealth, the former owner of the facility. According to Ray Rusin of the Office of Facilities Management at the Department of Health, Genesis Healthcare is determined to include the Pawtuxet property in the merger.
Gerry Goulet, counsel for SunHealth, was not available for comment as of press time.
An application was filed for change of effective control with the Department of Health and is currently being processed. An exact timeline for its approval and the possible reopening of the facility could not be confirmed.
Mayor Scott Avedisian, who urged the voluntary closure of the facility so that the city could retain the license for the 130 beds on site, said he believes there is still a “high probability” a rehabilitation center will reopen. If the center had been forced to shut down, they would have automatically lost their license. A decade-old moratorium prohibits the licensure of new beds in the state.
According to the Department of Health, the beds are currently “on hold.” If the Health Service Council recommends approval for the change of effective control, Genesis, as the new owner, can petition the Department of Health to re-license some or all of the beds at the Pawtuxet facility. Subsequently, they could schedule a reopening.
Pawtuxet Village Care and Rehab had a history of non-compliance dating back to 2007. As of this year, the center had been “on probation” for a year, which meant the facility was inspected more frequently by the Department of Health. An unannounced inspection in mid-February prompted yet another non-compliance order.
In March, the Department of Health announced its intent to revoke the center’s license, citing issues with pain management, bed sore treatment and prevention, fall prevention and range of motion practices.
In the past, the center also had compliance issues with medication administration. Several family members of patients complained their loved ones were overdosed while under the care of the center, including Deborah Norman and her sister, Betty Marquis, who started a petition to have the center investigated. The pair is planning to move forward with a class action lawsuit against the center and SunHealth for expenses relating to their father’s hospitalization after a suspected overdose while at Pawtuxet Village.
Though there were those who supported the citations, others pushed for the center to stay open.
“This is my home,” said 91-year-old resident Helen Carroll in a March interview with the Beacon.
Despite pleas like Carroll’s, the center closed and the 94 residents were moved to other area facilities. Now it’s to be seen if former residents will be able to return to a place they called home in the past.
In addition to the Department of Health’s approval, Genesis will also have to obtain occupancy approval from the state fire marshal, confirm their kitchen and food license, demonstrate that the staff and material resources to operate and provide a written admissions and staffing plan to the Department of Health. Genesis will also have to outline any construction or modification plans.
Genesis would also have to be approved for Medicare and Medicaid certification, which the Department of Health presumes they will seek.
Representatives from Genesis declined to comment at this time. Those from SunHealth issued a press release in which the details of the merger are outlined, though they could not comment specifically on the status of the Pawtuxet facility.
According to the release, Genesis will acquire SunHealth for a transaction value of approximately $275 million in cash and debt acquired. Combined, the two companies will boast more than 420 facilities and 75,000 employees nationwide.
Locally, Genesis owns and operates the Kent Regency Skilled Nursing Facility in Warwick as well as several other facilities throughout Rhode Island and Massachusetts. SunHealth, under SunBridge Healthcare, owns the Greenwood Care and Rehab Center in Warwick and other centers throughout Massachusetts.