No one is sadder than I that the North End Nursing and Rehab Center will be closing. Before becoming CEO of the health center in 1988, I was Chief Financial Officer of the nursing home from its opening in 1983, until 1988. Things were very different 33 years ago.
Residents lived in a communal setting; almost akin to what is now assisted living. Residents cooked meals in the activities room for each other and their families, regular outings to go apple picking or restaurant hopping were organized, and many regularly walked around the neighborhood.
As rules around Medicaid eligibility began to change, only the sickest of patients were deemed appropriate for entry, unless they were able to pay privately. At that time, 95% of the residents qualified for Medicaid. In later years, the newest residents were too sick to enjoy most of those activities, and the number of North Enders requesting admission started to dwindle. By 2000, healthcare was rapidly changing, and the board of directors found it difficult to operate the facility providing only skilled nursing services.
To compete in the new healthcare marketplace and assure services would remain; the health center partnered with the MGH family. The nursing home became a part of the Spalding Rehab Network of Partners HealthCare. MGH has become a valued partner to the health center, and provides a wealth of expertise and resources. At the new Spaulding North End (SNE), rehab beds were added to complement the long term care services. Over the years, however, less and less North Ender residents are seeking rehab or long term care services at SNE. This is due to many factors which include a dwindling elder population; access to newer and more modern facilities; and patients’ preference to remain home or enter care in assisted living, or independent housing facilities.
The facility is antiquated and does not meet the needs of patients entering its doors. I have to say I bemoan the decision to close it, but I begrudgingly understand.
People are concerned it will be turned into luxury condos or hotel space; I will do everything in my power to see that it remains an asset to this community and used to improve the lives of our residents.
Jim Luisi, CEO North End Waterfront Health