Wildflower Court closed Saturday

The Martha’s Vineyard Hospital-affiliated facility is a victim of trend toward assisted living and people aging in place.

Wildflower Court is closing Saturday. -Stacey Rupolo

Wildflower Court, a 13-unit rest home within Windemere Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, officially closed Saturday, Sept. 9, when its last resident is moved to an undisclosed facility, Matthew Muratore, the nursing home’s interim administrator, said Friday.

Four employees are being laid off and a fifth has taken a job within the facility, Mr. Muratore said. The staff was officially notified about the closing two weeks ago, but has known about it since February, he said.

The closing was forced by a combination of low reimbursement rates from Medicaid and lack of private-paying customers interested in such facilities, Mr. Muratore said. With the advent of assisted living facilities, more people are either going to those or are remaining in their homes, leaving nursing homes struggling with occupancy rates in the 85 percent range.

Once licensed for 106 beds overall, Windemere is now down to 61 total beds with the closing of Wildflower Court, Mr. Muratore said.

“This is a licensed rest home, not independent living, and there are certain restrictions you have on that,” he said. “Once that was clarified with people, they understood.”

At a forum in May discussing the closing, then-Martha’s Vineyard Hospital CEO Joe Woodin told the crowd that Windemere loses $750,000 to $1 million per year with Wildflower Court being a particular struggle.

Mr. Muratore declined to say where the lone remaining resident is being relocated to citing privacy concerns. Two other residents had been moved previously, he said.

At the May forum, hospital officials said the problems are systemic for such facilities.

“Nursing homes are a difficult thing to manage,” Mr. Woodin said at that time. “They typically lose a lot of money.”

The hospital is under the corporate umbrella of hospital giant Partners HealthCare, which owns Massachusetts General, among other healthcare facilities.

Now that Wildflower Court is closed, Mr. Muratore will work with interim hospital CEO Tim Walsh on a plan for how to use the space. Because it was on the bottom floor of Windemere, it will most likely have a function affiliated with the hospital that may require some construction to keep it separate from the nursing home, Mr. Muratore said.

Adding more nursing home beds is not an option, he said. “You can’t just switch it to a nursing home license. There are a lot of issues with that,” said Mr. Muratore, who is also a state representative in Plymouth. Even if they could get the license amended for nursing home beds, it’s not something that would likely improve the bottom line: “Nursing home beds are not as readily sought nowadays. People are trying to stay at home as long as they can.”