SWANZEY — The town is getting out of the nursing home business as years of financial losses and failed state license inspections have prompted selectmen to vote for closing the historic Carpenter House.
Town Administrator Michael Branley said Friday the home has been losing about $30,000 a year, and between 2014 and 2018 the net losses totaled more than $152,000.
The 16-bed facility currently has had eight residents since February, leaving the town with a monthly $25,000 deficit.
On top of the financial issues are the state’s concerns about the management of the facility. According to license reports, the state Department of Health and Human Services has consistently found issues with the management of the facility during annual inspections. For example, last year it found residents were not getting the prescribed amount of medication that the staff had on file.
“It’s licensed through the state and it’s been cited for deficiencies,” Branley said.
According to meeting minutes from the board of selectmen, the town was recently considering spending $40,000 to bring in a consultant to help get the facility up to state standards. Instead, the board voted to shut it down.
Branley said the town has had increasing trouble finding and keeping full-time nursing staff. With a nationwide nursing shortage, Swanzey has been priced out of the staffing market in many instances, Branley said.
Right now the town is working with the families of the remaining Carpenter Home residents as they find new situations. Most are going to the county nursing home, Maplewood, in Westmoreland, Branley said.
The town is considering options for the property, including reopening it as an assisted living facility, or contracting with a third party to operate it as an assisted living facility. Residents will get a chance to get more information at an April 24 public information session, set for 6 p.m. at Whitcomb Hall.
The town was given the property by Lucy Carpenter in 1930, who left it to Swanzey in her will. Carpenter’s will stipulates that the property is to be used for “a home for poor and unfortunate residents of the Town. … All native residents of said town, who may, by reason of old age, sickness, or other misfortune, have been rendered incapable of caring for themselves, may find a home here.”