The sudden closure of a Missouri nursing home on Dec. 15 has left 170 residents and their families surprised — with other ramifications as well.
The Northview Village Nursing Home in northern St. Louis abruptly ceased operations, according to local reports.
On Dec. 19, family members, care staff, and state and local politicians staged a protest of the nursing home’s closure and its apparent failure to pay employees, as reported by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
Michele Waller, a receptionist at Northview prior to the closure, told a local news outlet that the owner of the nursing home had known about the closure but failed to disclose the information.
"From my understanding, they say [the owner] had known this for weeks already, probably months," Waller said.
Starr Bradford, a St. Louis woman whose mother was a resident of Northview Village for 20 years, said the facility did not notify her about the closure, she told Fox News Digital.
She was alerted to the situation by a Facebook post from a family member of another resident.
"I had to physically go to the nursing home for answers and two employees cleaning out their office helped me out," Bradford told Fox News Digital in a text.
She eventually found her mother at a new nursing home, where the director provided her with a letter from Northview Village.
"I hope everyone else found their loved ones as well, because this was terrifying," said Bradford.
Fox News Digital attempted to contact Northview Village, the nursing home that closed — but calls went unanswered.
Healthcare Accounting Services, the company that operates the nursing home, told Fox News Digital on Wednesday that "we are not providing any statements at this time."
The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, which regulates the nursing home, was notified of the situation at around 4:15 p.m. on Friday, a spokesperson told Fox News Digital via email.
"The facility operators were working to implement their emergency evacuation plan, and local EMS assisted with the relocation of approximately 170 residents," the spokesperson said. "Our team remained on site monitoring the evacuation."
Northview Village was responsible for executing its emergency evacuation plan, the spokesperson told Fox News Digital.
"They relocated the residents to at least 14 other facilities in the St. Louis metro area and worked to contact families," she said.
The final resident left the facility before 6 a.m. on Saturday, according to the spokesperson.
"Our team continued working through the weekend, following up with the receiving facilities to check in on the residents who had been transferred."
The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services was informed that funding was not in place to pay workers on Friday, which caused the workforce issue, the same group said.
Superior Manor of Downtown Residential Care, another nursing home in the area, was reportedly one of the facilities that received the displaced residents.
When contacted by phone, an employee of Superior Manor confirmed to Fox News Digital that some of Northview Village’s residents were there.
"We have two sister facilities, and all together, we took in probably 30 of them," the employee said.
She also noted that the relocation was very stressful for the residents.
"They’re settling in, but it’s a process," she said.
Impact of relocation on seniors
An abrupt relocation can have significant mental and emotional impacts on seniors — particularly individuals with dementia, experts said.
"For those with dementia, the familiarity of their living environment and predictable routines can serve to help with their overall functioning," Dr. Carrie Ditzel, a clinical psychologist and director of geropsychology and neuropsychology at Baker Street Behavioral Health in New Jersey, told Fox News Digital.
"For those with dementia, the familiarity of their living environment and predictable routines can serve to help with their overall functioning."
Stability creates a sense of comfort and predictability for aging seniors, Ditzel noted, which can help them manage deficits in skills or memory.
"If the sense of familiarity and predictability is not re-established successfully, the resident may experience things like confusion, behavioral changes and emotional unrest," she added.
Amy Morin, a licensed clinical social worker in Florida who has helped seniors find assisted living facilities, agreed that a sudden relocation can be very stressful for a senior.
"They may be disoriented, homesick and confused," she told Fox News Digital. "They may struggle to adjust to their new surroundings, especially if it wasn't their choice to make the move or they weren't involved in the process."
When residents feel that things are out of their control, they may experience emotional distress, said Morin.
"They may be anxious or fearful," she noted. "They may also ask questions about when they can go home and may not understand if their situation is permanent."
For someone with dementia, a sudden move can worsen symptoms, Morin warned.
"They may struggle to find their way around, may not understand where they are and may be confused by support staff," she said. "They may not recognize friends and family once they are out of their normal routines."