Decision on closing nursing homes postponed until April

A Superior Court judge on Tuesday granted four nursing homes a temporary reprieve, but the facilities could still face closure next month.

“The court is not optimistic at all about the prospect of keeping these homes,” Judge Jerry Wagner said.

Wagner agreed to a request by lawyers for the union representing nursing home workers and the property owner to postpone his decision on the court-appointed receiver’s motion to close the homes, allowing the receiver time to seek potential buyers and prospective buyers to develop proposals.

The homes–University Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation in New Haven, Bishops Corner Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation in West Hartford, Soundview Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation in West Haven and Rocky Hill Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation–have 472 beds and employ about 400 people. In 2009, they had net losses of nearly $6.5 million, according to a motion filed by receiver Phyllis A. Belmonte.

Attorneys for the state Department of Social Services, which is covering the costs to run the homes while in receivership, objected last week to the idea of postponing the potential closure.

But this week, an attorney representing DSS asked Wagner to postpone his decision about Soundview and University because of uncertainty about the future of New Haven’s Jewish Home for the Aged. That home is in bankruptcy and a sale appears “very likely to occur,” but if it were to close, the loss of it and University and Soundview could lead to a shortage of nursing home beds in the New Haven area, according to the state’s motion.

Wagner granted the motion, and later agreed to postpone the closure hearing on the other two homes too. The closure hearing will be held at 11 a.m., April 21, in Hartford Superior Court.