FILE PHOTO: Wood River Nursing Home

WOOD RIVER — The 34 people who were evacuated from a Wood River nursing home during last month’s flood never moved back.

The Good Samaritan Society’s skilled nursing facility in Wood River is closing.

The closing takes effect on June 30, but the building is already empty.

All of the residents were safely relocated to the society’s skilled nursing facility in Hastings.

“In order to avoid as much relocation trauma as possible, residents will not be transferred back to Wood River,” says a statement from the Good Samaritan Society. “Residents who choose to remain in Hastings will be assisted to enable them to do that, and residents who desire to transfer elsewhere will be provided with options and assistance to make those accommodations. Additional factors leading to this decision include increasing financial challenges, difficulty in recruiting new employees and the surplus of skilled nursing beds within the geographic area surrounding Wood River.”

Wood River Mayor Greg Cramer said the flood didn’t do any damage to the nursing home — “nothing inside the building, anyway,” he said.

Cramer believes the flood gave Good Samaritan the opportunity to leave.

The closure is a blow to Wood River, he said. Some of the employees are now working in Hastings, but some are not.

The low bed count was probably a factor in the closing, Cramer said. He had also heard that the nursing home’s director had quit.

“Hopefully, we can figure out something to do with the building,” he said. “We want to work with them, and hopefully they’ll work with us and do something.”

Good Samaritan owns both the building and four lots to the north of it, Cramer said.

It’s required that a 60-day notice be given to regulatory agencies, but it’s true that no one is living at the home right now, said Aaron Woods, director of corporate communications for the Evangelical Lutheran Good Samaritan Society.

The Good Samaritan Society initially made the decision to not move residents back because of the trauma seniors experience during those kinds of relocations, Woods said.

That trauma has been demonstrated through research, he said.

“We just didn’t want to move people back and then have to move them a third or potentially fourth time,” Woods said. “So this minimizes that impact. And we hope most of our residents will choose to stay in Hastings. But if they choose not to stay, we’re going to provide them all the assistance that they need to safely relocate to another nursing home.”

When told about the comment made by Wood River’s mayor, Woods said. “The economic drivers have been there for some time. However, the first and foremost consideration is for the well-being of our residents.”

The “flooding forced us to relocate them, and we just made the decision not to return them to Wood River for our residents’ own well-being. And so that’s the primary driving force behind that decision,” he said.

The statement from the Good Samaritan Society concludes with this message:

“We are thankful for the many ways our mission of ‘sharing God’s love’ has been lived out through the support and service of our dedicated employees, family members and community members who have been involved with the Good Samaritan Society — Wood River.”

Reporter

I am the Cops & Courts Reporter for the Grand Island Independent. I welcome news tips!

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