Genesis Healthcare to close Marietta Center

Washington County skilled nursing center has 150 beds

MARIETTA — The Marietta Center rehabilitation and long-term care facility is preparing to close down.

The company that owns the center, Genesis Healthcare of Pennsylvania, confirmed Wednesday that it is assisting residents and their families in finding other facilities.

“We have made the difficult business decision to voluntarily close Marietta Center, the skilled nursing center located at 117 Bartlett Street in Marietta, Ohio,” the company said in an email response to an inquiry from The Marietta Times. “We are coordinating our efforts with state agencies and the Ombudsman. During this closure process, we will work personally with each patient, resident and their families to identify alternative arrangements to meet their needs and preferences, and make the transition as smooth as possible.”

Genesis did not indicate what prompted the decision to close Marietta Center, which at 150 beds is one of the largest facilities of its kind in Washington County. They also did not provide a closure date.

According to December 2018 Centers for Medicare and Medicaid data on nursing homes, Marietta Center had an average of 106 patients per day.

Genesis Healthcare spokeswoman Lori Mayer said that as of Wednesday there were 83 patients at Marietta Center, and noted that not all of them will be affected by the closure because some of them already have a discharge plan.

Although staffing numbers were not available, the CMS rating tables offer average staffing times per patient in various skill levels, with Marietta Center showing 32 minutes per day of Registered Nurse care per patient, 52 minutes of LPN care and two hours and five minutes of nurse aide care. Those times were all slightly below national and state averages, and the facility was classified as a special focus facility by CMS, meaning that it has “a history of persistent poor quality of care, as indicated by the findings of federal or state inspection teams.”

Although Marietta Center’s overall rating by CMS was one star out of five – “much below average” – it received four stars, or above average, for quality of resident care and three stars, or average, for staffing levels. Health and fire safety inspections were both one-star, however, and the facility has been fined by CMS three times in the past three years, for a total of about $150,000.

Marietta Center is closing as the population of the area is aging and demand for long-term care in skilled nursing settings is increasing. Jennifer Westfall, executive director of the Buckeye Hills Regional Council Agency on Aging and Disability in Marietta, said it is dismaying to see such a large operation shutting down.

“We hate to lose a provider and see people displaced,” she said Wednesday. “They’re doing a voluntary closure, and we’re losing a resource. They have a dementia care unit, and that’s especially concerning.”

Westfall said the agency is urging residents and families to work with the facility, but she said the agency is willing to help in any way it can.

“It’s going to take a lot of effort, trying to find the best place for each of them,” she said. “Trying to transition everyone with the least disruption, it will be a lot of work. People should work with the facility first, and the agency will be helping.”

Every resident has unique needs, she said, and the facilities each offer a different range of services.

“It’s going to be case by case, based on the needs of the individual. It varies a lot, based on their needs, level of care required, how far they are willing to relocate from home,” she said.

Westfall noted that the Marietta Center employees also are having their lives disrupted.

“We’re losing a resource and an employer, so it’s not just the residents who are impacted,” she said. “They’re not only working to assist the residents, they’re also worried about their own lives and livelihoods.”

The Marietta Center building opened as a nursing home in 1966, then known as Harmar House. A fire there in 1970, caused by a cigarette and spread rapidly by nylon carpet and wallpaper, killed 32 people and became the impetus for several federal nursing home regulations intended to prevent another catastrophic event of that kind. It also helped the city pass a levy to build a fire station on Harmar Hill and was a persuasive element in the city council’s decision to add 12 firefighter jobs, nearly doubling the size of the department.

Genesis Healthcare operates more than 400 facilities across the country. In 2016 the company showed a net loss of $64 million; in 2017 it showed a net loss of $579 million, according to the 2017 annual report. In 2017, the company’s average daily patient census was 44,800, about 3,000 lower than the figure for 2016.

Like most Genesis Healthcare facilities, Marietta Center is leased property. The owner, Ventas Realty LLC, acquired it in 1998, according to Washington County Auditor records. The company’s Chicago offices could not be reached Wednesday, as much of the city was shut down by severe weather conditions.