The Tall Pines long-term care complex in Belfast will transition to new ownership on June 1 and close its skilled nursing facility, among other changes.
Magnolia Assisted Living and Memory Care, a Texas-based assisted living company that owns nine facilities across Maine, is seeking licensing for the takeover of the full Tall Pines campus. The new ownership intends to keep Tall Pines’ assisted living facility and physical therapy program operational.
The Commons, which includes Tall Pines’ skilled nursing facility, is set to close by June 18, but Magnolia will look to retain around 90 percent of current staff.
Ed Sedacca, the CEO of Magnolia, said while around 30 residents requiring skilled nursing care will need to be relocated, the company hopes to be able to rehouse 14 other residents who currently live in The Commons so they can remain in Belfast. Magnolia plans to renovate and reopen The Commons building as an assisted living facility with 46 beds by November.
While the new ownership was announced Thursday, the future of The Commons at Tall Pines and its residents has remained murky since North Country Associates, the management company that currently runs The Commons, announced plans to shutter the skilled nursing facility earlier this week. Sedacca confirmed Magnolia plans to minimize disruption to current Tall Pines residents and staff, and bring more assisted living beds to Belfast.
“Magnolia is really concentrating on maintaining the ability for the seniors in Belfast to stay in Belfast, and to absorb the staff,” Sedacca said.
The new ownership will hold a job fair for staff from The Commons on May 11, and looks to employ current workers either at its other facilities in the state or to care for new assisted living residents once the building reopens.
The Commons at Tall Pines operates both for patients requiring skilled nursing care as well as a residential living center for seniors who pay for care through MaineCare, while The Residence at Tall Pines is for private paying residents, according to Sedacca. Magnolia wants to open up The Residence to MaineCare recipients, and make both privately paid and MaineCare beds available in The Commons once it reopens.
“What Magnolia is trying to do is come in and create a plan that, at least with assisted living, allows all the MaineCare assisted living beds to remain in Belfast,” Sedacca said.
Sedacca said he doesn’t want to see assisted living residents relocated from their communities, families or hometowns, an issue he’s seen too often, especially in small towns.
Magnolia had been in talks with Tall Pines Healthcare, which owns the Tall Pines campus, for some time, but only got in contact with North Country Associates about a week and a half ago, Sedacca said. At the time, the management company planned to announce The Commons would be shutting down due to staffing shortages in long-term care that were exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Like many other similar facilities in Maine, The Commons at Tall Pines faced persistent staffing issues that increased reliance on contract workers even before the pandemic. The Commons was one of the first skilled nursing facilities in Maine hit by COVID-19, and became an epicenter for COVID cases in April 2020 during an outbreak that resulted in 43 staff and patient cases and 13 resident deaths at the facility in 34 days.
As of April 9, eight residents are currently infected with COVID-19, and a resident last died from the virus in late October, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ COVID-19 nursing home data.