A Maine-based nonprofit that owns and operates veterans nursing homes is closing facilities in Machias and Caribou, citing decreases in the number of residents, difficulty hiring workers and significant operational losses.
The Maine Veterans Homes in Machias and Caribou are expected to close April 15 and May 1, respectively, though those dates may change depending on the time needed to help residents find new living arrangements.
Maine Veterans Homes provides long-term and skilled nursing care to veterans and qualified family members at its six facilities in the state. Besides Machias and Caribou, there are homes in Bangor, Augusta, Scarborough and South Paris. There are a little more than 100,000 veterans in Maine including those from five wars, constituting 9.6 percent of the state’s adult population. The state ranks fifth in the nation for its percentage of veterans.
The Machias and Caribou homes have lost a combined total of $2 million annually for the last several years, according to the nonprofit’s spokesperson Christine Henson. The facilities are on track to lose a combined $3 million this year.
She did not specify how many employees will be laid off or how many residents will be displaced.
Since Maine Veterans Homes is a nonprofit, it does not qualify for state assistance and has always relied on financial donations and Medicare, Medicaid, private pay and commercial health insurers.
“The problem of declining veteran population, as well as escalating staffing challenges, are long-term problems that will not be solved by administrative action or legislation,” Henson said. “Our Machias and Caribou Homes are not self-sustaining and have always relied heavily on financial support from the larger homes.”
In addition, the pandemic has made it harder to find qualified employees to staff the Machias and Caribou homes. On the nonprofit’s website, many of the open positions include registered nurses, certified nurse’s assistants, social workers and personal support specialists.
Even with more robust efforts to offer benefits and incentives, it would likely take years for both homes to hire enough people to be sustainable, Henson said.
Maine Veterans Homes plans to offer severance packages to employees and will help families find other facilities or family members for loved ones to live with, Henson said.