Crista Shores plans to close nursing care facility

"After years of wrangling with licensing agencies, Crista Shores has closed the doors of its nursing care facility and is in the process of downsizing.The closure is a indicative of a national shift away from nursing home care - considered costly and institutional - and toward lower-cost and more home-like assisted living facilities.The problem is twofold, said Glen Melin, executive director of the Crista Shores in Silverdale. There is the sheer number of aging baby boomers, and at the same time people are living longer - people 85 and older are the fastest-growing population. This is also a group with greater health care needs. People saved, but they didn't expect to have to pay for 30-plus years of high-cost health care.Crista Shores' independent and assisted living facilities will remain open.The three levels of care require different licenses. Independent living is an apartment community for retirees. Assisted living residents must be able to get out of a building in case of fire and cannot have open sores. Nursing care facilities, the level which Crista Shores no longer will operate, require more highly-skilled services, and higher staff to patient ratio.The state has become reluctant to license new nursing care facilities in part because about two-thirds of elderly people nationwide rely on Medicaid, which is funded half by the state and half by the federal government. Since nursing care facilities are considerably more expensive than independent or assisted living care, Crista Shores ran into red tape from the start.Planners for the non-denominational Christian community wanted the facility to provide independent living, assisted living and nursing care, but this proved to be complicated. In 1992, company officials were in the process of purchasing a nursing bed license from a facility that was closing when the state put a freeze on the transfer of such licenses. Seeking an alternative, the firm applied for a 5-year transitional license, but did not receive a timely response. The independent living facility opened in September 1994 at 1600 Crista Shores Lane, and the assisted living wing followed two months later. But the state was still dragging its feet on the nursing facility decision.It was frustrating because we were trying to explain to residents what we could and could not offer them, Melin said.After a year, the facility received finally word that their license was denied - and a nine-month appeal process ensued. Crista Shores won, opened the wing in March 1995, and entered a contract with Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) to permit Medicaid reimbursements.That was our goal from the get-go. It's part of our mission not just to take care of the wealthy, but those who have run out of money, Melin said.The five-year license now has expired, and the company is phasing out the nursing care facility which it worked so hard to open. The 31 patients the facility housed have been transferred to Crista Shores assisted living (also covered by Medicaid) or to other area nursing care facilities.The change upset some residents, who said they moved into Crista Shores because they wanted to live near their spouses. Patricia Allen, 79, moved into the independent living facility 30 months ago with her husband, who has Alzheimer's disease.Having that (nursing) facility here for the future was one of the reasons we came here, Allen said. I am concerned because my husband will need it in time. We started in independent living, moved (to assisted living) and I figured one day we would need to move there.The change will reduce the company's revenue from about $5 million a year to $3.9 million a year and 10 employees have been laid off. But there will be some benefits to the change, including a more personalized price structure for residents.If we're trying to find efficiencies in care, we only need to charge people for the care they need when they need it, rather than assuming everybody needs everything like nursing care facilities do, Melin said.Crista Shores is a non-profit organization whose parent company, Crista Ministries, is based in Shoreline. The ministry owns King's West School in Chico, retreat centers at Island Lake and Miracle Ranch, adoption agencies and radio stations, among other things.Our mission is to bring Christ's love to the people of the Pacific Northwest, and through them to the world, said Linda Heyden, director of community relations for Crista Shores. "

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