Bonnie Blue closing doors permanently

Tammy Keele

In a special meeting Wednesday Sept. 14, the Three Rivers Health Board of Trustees voted to close Bonnie Bluejacket Memorial Nursing Home after 48 years in operation. 

“I am glad to have a lot of public interest in this because it is a big decision,” said Board Chairperson Connie Werbelow, before the vote. “It is a tough decision for us as board members to face too because this whole facility is important to us. But we are at a point now where we are struggling and we cannot financially afford to stay in the same form we are now. We have to make some drastic changes.” 

With a room full of attendees and the noted absence of board member Ken Nelson, a motion was made by Jeff Petty and seconded by Paul Thur to close the doors to the nursing home permanently.  After continued discussion which included Werbelow, the quorum of three made the difficult decision with a unanimous vote.

The call to close comes after several weeks of meetings with nursing home residents, their families, administrators and the general public. A recent state approval for a temporary distressed facility Medicare/Medicaid rate increase just a few weeks ago came too late to change the fate of Bonnie Blue. The fact that the board account has been drained of approximately $500,000 in general fund transfer requests over the last few months and the number of nursing home residents has dropped from 21 to 15 with six more planning to leave added to the urgency of making a final decision on the fate of the doomed facility.   After closure, a 2023 net gain of $920,476.00 is expected. This amount will include an increase in Medicare reimbursements and a decrease in hospital staff. 

According to nursing home administrator Anna Preciado, the next step for the facility is to present a 60-day notice of intent to close to the state along with a closure plan for approval.  Once approved, the residents will be given a 30-day notice. “It’s been a bittersweet thing,” the administrator said of the facility’s journey to close. “It has been difficult for my residents, my families, my staff.” 

Board member Jeff Petty expressed the hospital’s commitment to the residents and their families in assisting them find a place to relocate.

CEO Rick Schroeder shared the following after the vote. “I know that was an awfully difficult decision and I am sorry that it came to that point. I think that the right decision was made and it’s going to preserve the rest of the hospital, clinic and ER.”  

The regularly scheduled board meeting has been canceled this month and will resume in October.