2nd Metro East nursing home closes amid nationwide staffing woes

Illinois and Missouri rank last in the country in time nurses spend with residents.
Published: Jul. 14, 2022 at 9:51 PM CDT
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METRO EAST (KMOV) - A Metro East nursing home confirmed to News 4 its facility is closing after failed state inspections.

New Athens Home for the Aged closed the doors at its 53-bed facility Thursday. The nursing home is the second in the area to close in about a year. Faith Countryside Homes in Highland, Illinois closed last summer.

Experts cited lingering issues for the closure that stem from the pandemic, such as staffing issues.

“It was a little bit surprising at first. I expected some facilities to close,” said Jason Ashmore, a representative with Teamsters Local Union 50. “It does cause some--some, definitely, some issues when you have these smaller towns around these locations because the workplace pool is smaller.”

The union covers a part of southern and rural Illinois.

In Missouri, a healthcare official told News 4 the bigger nursing homes are somewhat managing to get by, but some smaller, long-term care facilities have closed.

“We’ve seen some very small residential care facilities that--maybe had eight people--close,” said Marjorie Moore, executive director of Voyce, an organization looking out for the best interests of long-term care residents. “We’ve been talking about staffing in facilities for a long time. We get calls every day for people who are looking for long-term care and right now can’t find it, because facilities can’t take in any more people because they don’t have the staff to do it.”

According to the nonprofit Long Term Care Community Coalition, Missouri and Illinois hold the last place spots in the nation for time nurses spend with patients. The federal government said each resident needs just over four hours of care per day. The most recent data show Illinois sits just below three hours a day, and Missouri just above.

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker recently signed off on legislation funneling $700 million into Medicaid-funded homes to fight this problem.

“We’re working, currently, with some of our employers right now to look into this law, and look at what we can do for our members, and what they can do for their employees to retain the ones they have now, and also make it more attractive to bring other new employees,” Ashmore said.

Experts predict with the aging Baby Boomer population, assisted living will massively grow in the coming years.