NORWICH – After more than fifty years of serving the needs of seniors in the greater Chenango community, Chenango Memorial Hospital is closing the long-term care unit located on the hospital’s second floor as of January 31, 2024.
“As of today, we will no longer be accepting new residents and, over the next two months, we will work closely with our residents and their families to ensure their placement in other long-term care facilities,” said Drake M. Lamen, MD, president and CEO of UHS Chenango Memorial Hospital.
Those directly impacted by the decision have all been personally notified, according to Lamen, and the hospital is committed to ensuring the transition is as smooth as possible for all involved.
“We are fully prepared to do all we can to find new placements for the 19 nursing home residents who currently call the unit home,” he said. “In addition, we are working closely with staff to keep them working in their current capacities through the transition and have already identified a number of opportunities both here at Chenango Memorial and across the UHS system for their consideration.”
“We understand that some will choose to stay in long-term care, or may be ready for other opportunities. And in those instances, we’ll do everything we can to help them start the next chapter of their careers for other employers.”
The reason for the decision, according to the hospital administrator, is both financial and strategic in nature.
“Providing the highest quality of care for our long-term care residents has been a point of distinction for our hospital for many years,” Lamen said. “However, due to the complexity of regulations governing long-term care; staffing shortages; and reimbursement rates that fall short of the cost of delivering care, this service line has not been able to support itself financially for a number of years. As a non-profit hospital, we can no longer justify allocating additional resources to sustain it.”
Few if any other rural hospitals in New York State maintain long-term care units, he added.
“Long-term care falls outside of our core mission, and we have to be realistic that our staff, space and resources could and should be put to use to grow and introduce other services for the broader benefit of our patients and community.”
Joseph Stagliano, chair of UHS Chenango Memorial’s Board of Directors, reiterated Lamen’s comments about the factors that led to this critical decision.
“Our strategic direction is to ensure we continue to provide high quality healthcare in our community,” Stagliano said. “As we enter Phase II of our Chenango Medical Neighborhood Plan, we are excited about the future and the quality of services that we will provide within our newly renovated facilities. This will help us attract and retain critically needed healthcare providers for our community and provide much needed services within our hospital.”
The hospital’s board and leadership team are currently exploring options for alternative uses for the second floor of the hospital, part of which is occupied by the long-term care unit. In addition, Lamen stated that UHS Chenango Memorial does plan to expand short-term rehabilitation services for patients who are not ready to return home immediately following a surgical procedure or hospital stay.
“We still have the ability to offer short-term rehabilitation services on a limited basis utilizing space in other units,” Lamen said. “Planning is currently underway to determine how best to accomplish this.”
UHS Chenango Memorial Hospital is a member of United Health Services, a locally owned not-for-profit 916-bed hospital and health care system serving the Greater Binghamton region from more than 40 locations around New York’s Southern Tier.
– Information from UHS CMH