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Copley nursing home on nation's worst list to voluntarily close

Akron Beacon Journal - 6/11/2019

Fairlawn Rehab & Nursing Home, which is on a federal list of the nation's worst nursing homes, is voluntarily closing.

Owners of the Copley nursing home, which was the subject of a front-page story in Sunday's newspaper outlining the quality-of-care issues that landed it on list, notified the Ohio Department of Health on Monday that it was voluntarily closing on Sept. 10. The state requires a 90-day notice of closure.

The owner, Hillstone Healthcare, had notified the state last week that it intended to sell the facility to another company next month.

Now the latest filing indicates Hillstone instead will close the nursing home.

Fairlawn Rehab -- on Ridgewood Road at Cleveland-Massillon Road -- is one of five Ohio nursing homes on a list of 88 federal "Special Focus Facilities" nationwide with the most serious history of quality of care issues.

Phone calls and emails to owners of Hillstone and its sister company, Boulder Healthcare, have not been returned to the Beacon Journal. An official told the Columbus Dispatch that his companies acquire struggling facilities but shouldn't be accountable for problems that were created before they bought the properties.

Sam McCoy, senior vice president of elder rights for Direction Home Akron Canton Area Agency on Aging & Disabilities, said his organization has been fielding lots of complaints about Fairlawn Rehab for the past six to eight months.

McCoy said he was "disappointed the Hillstone and Boulder organization was not willing to invest the time and effort and energy to bring their facility up to standards.

"I say that because I know they are the owners and operators of many many other facilities in the state," he said. "It's frustrating to me that for all the reasons to get into the business, they're not willing to invest in the improvement of care."

McCoy last week said he was not in favor of nursing homes closing and would rather have the staff work to fix the problem for all residents.

Hillstone and Boulder, businesses that share leadership and an office address near Columbus, own 39 nursing homes statewide.

Three of the five on the federal government's worst list -- including Fairlawn Rehab -- are operated by Hillstone and Boulder. One of those three in the Columbus area also is closing.

The Columbus Dispatch analyzed federal information and found nearly 72% of the 39 Ohio nursing homes owned by Hillstone and Boulder scored only a one- or two-star rating on a five-star scale.

Hillstone also owns four other Ohio nursing homes -- including Hudson Elms Nursing Home -- that are on a second federal list of facilities that are candidates for the worst-five list.

A team of state and local agency representatives has already been assembled to help Fairlawn Rehab's approximately 64 residents look for new care, either in their private homes or at another facility, said McCoy.

McCoy said the nursing home bed vacancy rate in Summit County is about 14 to 15 percent, so Fairlawn Rehab residents shouldn't have a problem finding a new facility.

"I have staff in the facility as we speak," McCoy said. "Our primary interest at this point forth is to see that those residents who remain during this 90-day period get quality care and those who elect to choose another home will have their choices honored."

Sunday's story about Fairlawn Rehab and the issues there prompted Summit County Council President Jeff Wilhite on Monday night to propose creating a task force to examine the condition of area nursing homes and advocate for change.

Betty Lin-Fisher can be reached at 330-996-3724 or blinfisher@thebeaconjournal.com. Follow her @blinfisherABJ on Twitter or www.facebook.com/BettyLinFisherABJ and see all her stories at www.ohio.com/topics/linfisher

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(c)2019 the Akron Beacon Journal (Akron, Ohio)

Visit the Akron Beacon Journal (Akron, Ohio) at www.ohio.com

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