WESTERLY — More than 30 patients of the Apple Rehab nursing home in Watch Hill must find new accommodations following the facility’s announcement that it will soon close.
The facility notified its patients and their families of the imminent closure on Tuesday. Workers, who asked not to be identified for this article, said they were informed late last week.
Annemarie Beardsworth, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Health, which regulates nursing homes in Rhode Island, said representatives of the facility notified the department of an intent to close the facility “due to registered nurse staffing issues.” The facility has submitted a closure plan that was approved by the state Health Department, Beardsworth said.
Apple Rehab Watch Hill is licensed for 60 beds and currently has 33 individuals who reside there. It is one of two Apple facilities in Westerly. Apple Rehab’s corporate headquarters is located in Avon, Conn. The firm owns more than 20 nursing facilities — all but the two in Westerly are in Connecticut.
The state Department of Health is monitoring the closure process, which will include the facility working with residents and their families to find a new home, providing an opportunity to visit other facilities of interest, arranging for transfer of the residents’ belongings to the new facility, and providing counseling to residents to prepare them for a successful transition, Beardsworth said.
The state’s long-term care ombudsman is involved and will work with the facility to find residents new homes, giving consideration to both residents’ needs and choices, Beardsworth said. The state Department of Health will monitor the facility during the closure plan and may make unannounced visits, she said.
Many nursing homes throughout the country have battled the COVID-9 pandemic since it started, and the two Apple facilities were no exception. Both the Apple Rehab facility in Watch Hill and the Apple Clipper Rehab facility on Post Road in Westerly struggled with COVID-19 outbreaks in late November and December. According to the facilities and records maintained by state and federal agencies, all but two of the residents at each facility tested positive for the virus in December.
An agreement recorded in 2019 in the Westerly land records gives 75 Watch Hill Road LLC, a company managed by Thomas P. Sculco, a right of first refusal should the 2.26-acre Apple Rehab property be sold or if a transfer of ownership is proposed. 75 Watch Hill Road LLC purchased 75 Watch Hill Road, which is next door to the nursing home property, in 2019 at about the same time the right of first refusal agreement was signed. Both properties are on the banks of the Pawcatuck River.
The exact closure date is unclear. Officials with Apple’s corporate office did not return messages left Monday and Wednesday seeking clarification and comment for this article. The corporate office also did not comment in December for an article about the COVID-19 outbreak.