Town officials in Deer Isle and Stonington have called an area-wide meeting next week to discuss the future of the region’s only nursing home after the now-shuttered facility confirmed it can’t reopen with skilled nursing services.
The Island Nursing Home, which closed its nursing home in Deer Isle last fall due to a lack of staffing, officially shut the door on its old model this week. The company is now seeking a buyer for the license for its skilled care beds.
An insurmountable nationwide nursing shortage made continuing skilled nursing unfeasible, according to Ronda Dodge, the nursing home’s board president, but the home is still looking at ways to provide care to the area’s aging population.
“While the ability to reopen as a skilled nursing facility is out of our hands, the ability to reopen for the good of the people of this community is not,” she said. “We are excited to talk with our neighbors in and around Deer Isle about what’s ahead, and to get ideas for what comes next for this facility.”
For many town officials, some of whom have felt cut out of the process, that conversation can’t start soon enough.
The nursing home board said in May that it intended to hold a community meeting in June to take suggestions on how the board could use the facility. But that meeting has yet to be scheduled. On Tuesday, the day after the nursing home noted its intentions to sell the beds, town officials in Deer Isle, Stonington and five towns on the Blue Hill Peninsula scheduled a meeting to talk about the issue on July 20.
The towns invited the nursing home’s board to attend to provide background information on their decision to permanently close the nursing home as well as listen to ideas and concerns from the public.
“Once these licenses expire, the nursing home loses its grandfathered status in regard to facilities regulations and the Selectmen and other town officials believe the challenges will be much greater to re-open this nursing home,” Deer Isle Town Manager James Fisher wrote in a statement.
Dan Cashman, the nursing home’s new spokesperson, said Thursday that he was unaware that the meeting had been officially scheduled, so he wasn’t sure if nursing home officials would attend. A date for the nursing home to hold its own meeting has also not been set yet, but the board is looking for a good time to broach the topic.
“We understand the community is ready to have the conversation,” Cashman said.