News Feature

Deer Isle
Originally published in Island Ad-Vantages, October 7, 2021
INH task force backs license suspension
Sends recommendation to INH board

by Leslie Landrigan

The Island Nursing Home (INH) task force at its October 4 meeting recommended that the board seek a suspension from the state rather than surrender its license when it closes.

State Rep. Genevieve McDonald, task force spokesperson, said a suspension would be akin to a “freeze” status.

“We took a unanimous vote and made a formal recommendation to the board to suspend the licenses,” McDonald said in a phone interview. “Suspension allows the facility to park and hold those beds to ensure the opportunity of reopening is viable.”

The task force, made up of a dozen people and headed by INH President Ronda Dodge, met for the third time. Its goal is to come up with a viable plan to reopen the Island Nursing Home—either as a nursing home or as a provider of some kind of services to elderly people, Dodge said during a community forum on September 29. The facility is scheduled to close October 26.

Though the Island Nursing Home and Care Center program of caring for elderly people will end, the Island Nursing Home nonprofit organization will still exist. Run by a board of directors, it owns the building and other assets.

The task force was created shortly after INH announced its closing.

“They are going to knit together what they think is a feasible plan,” Dodge said. “Let’s figure out the housing, let’s figure out the child care, let’s figure out the staffing,” she said.

The task force will then present their recommendations to the board, and the board will decide to accept or reject it, Dodge said at the forum.

INH’s current plan is for a permanent closure, Dodge said. That can change up to the day after the last patient is placed in a new home, she said. After that, INH can hold onto its license until February 2023, Dodge said.

Should the nursing home reopen as a health care facility for seniors, state law gives former residents the right to return, McDonald said.

Working groups

The task force also decided at its October meeting to create three working groups—one each on affordable housing, staffing and operations and management, McDonald said.

Peter Roth, who serves on the Island Workforce Housing board, is heading the affordable housing group. Lindsey Carter, INH head of nursing, heads the staffing group. Roger Block, a former hospital administrator, heads the operations and management group.

The other task force members are Dr. Samuel Harrington, Richard Howe, Roberta Greenlaw Johnson, Gwyn Murray, Anne Schroth, Gail Senecal, Judy Williams and Lynne Witham.

McDonald said the task force will continue its Monday meetings, while the working groups will get together at other times.