St. Louis nursing home abruptly closes, workers go unpaid, residents relocated – St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Erin Heffernan, Jacob Barker

ST. LOUIS — A nursing home in north St. Louis suddenly closed Friday evening, forcing about 170 residents to be relocated via shuttle bus and leaving more than 100 workers unpaid, union officials said. The last resident was moved before dawn on Saturday.

Family members and friends gathered at the Northview Village nursing home Saturday, trying to figure out where their loved ones had been taken after the sudden closure. Volunteers tried to help searchers find residents by working from a list of long-term care facilities.

“I would just like to hear my brother’s voice,” said one woman who couldn’t find her brother, who has lived in Northview for five years.

The woman, who did not want to give her name because she feared it could cause problems for her brother, said she was the only family he had and she could not find out which nursing home he was taken to. Northview staff gave her a phone number to call.

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“I keep calling the number and getting no answer,” she said. “I don’t understand why you treat patients like that.”

The sudden closure caught staff and residents’ families by surprise. And it will leave a major gap in the region’s long-term care ecosystem. Northview was the city’s largest skilled nursing facility, serving many low-income patients in the historic De Paul Hospital building in the Kingsway West neighborhood.

Televisions and radios were still playing in the rooms, residents’ personal belongings were left behind, and the building was unsecured as former employees came and went. Some people unrelated to the facility took carts and other equipment that appeared to be up for grabs. A former worker was on his way to collect his 2015 Employee of the Month picture.

Workers at Northview Village Nursing Home, 2415 Kingshighway Boulevard, noticed Friday afternoon that their two-week paychecks hadn’t cleared and became concerned.

“Toward the end of my shift, I talked to the administrator and she just told me we didn’t have enough money to pay us,” said Marvetta Harrison, a certified medical technician who has worked at the nursing home for 37 years.

Harrison said that shortly before 4 p.m., shuttle buses from several other nursing homes in the area arrived to relocate all of the residents at the Kingsway West care center. Harrison said residents were confused and didn’t get many answers either.

“For some of these people, we’re like their family,” Harrison said. “They have no one else and no family members.”

Catina Frost, a human resources manager at Northview who has worked there for 18 years, said there are 169 people on the payroll. She said there was no warning that the store would close and actually attended a company training session on a new payroll system on Wednesday.

According to the organization’s website, the center is operated by Healthcare Accounting Services LLC. It is approved for up to 320 patient beds. The company owns several other long-term care facilities, including Grand Manor Nursing and Rehabilitation in the Grand Center neighborhood of St. Louis.

The company’s owner, Mahklouf “Mark” Suissa of Chicago, did not respond to requests for comment Saturday.

State regulators learned of the situation Friday and worked through the night to find residents new housing, said Lisa Cox, spokeswoman for the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services. The sudden closure was due to “issues with the workforce,” she said.

Northview Village has been rated one star out of five by the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. In February, investigators responded to a complaint that a resident was able to enter an elevator, get to the lobby and leave the facility alone because there was no one monitoring the lobby and the front door was left unlocked. The police found him and brought him back.

“There are a lot of issues, but it’s also one of the largest facilities we have in our region,” said Marjorie Moore, executive director of VOYCE, which serves as the region’s long-term care ombudsman. “That is the challenge we have. Many of these people need care and don’t really have anywhere else to go.”

Skilled nursing facilities like Northview must give 60 days’ notice of closures so residents can have a say in choosing their new home, she said.

“Residents have the right to decide where they live,” Moore said. “Many of these people were relocated quickly and obviously without much consent, so we want to make sure they are all in places they are happy with.”

Darrin Mosely loaded medical equipment and medication carts into a truck Saturday afternoon to be taken to Superior Manor of Festus, where he said about 30 residents were being transported. Another five or so residents were taken to the company’s sister location, Superior Manor of Downtown, said Mosely, an owner of Superior Manor.

An assistant manager at Superior Manor, Shamell King, said residents were transported to their site without documentation of their medical history and medication needs. She and other Superior Manor staff tried to obtain medical records from patient rooms in Northview and contact residents’ doctors to learn medical histories and medication needs.

Harrison, the 37-year employee, said many of the facility’s employees live paycheck to paycheck, meaning they may struggle to pay rent or buy gifts for their children at Christmas.

“We’ve been bustling around this building for so long and going through a lot to take care of these people with COVID,” she said. “It’s disgusting that they’re doing this to us.”

Harrison said it was still unclear to workers whether the nursing home would reopen, whether jobs would return or whether they would ever receive their paychecks.

Workers were given a phone number to call about missed paychecks, but the number simply left them on hold. At some point the call would simply drop out, Harrison said.

Edward Graves, who started maintaining the building just four months ago, said the building needs a lot of repairs. But the closure came out of nowhere, he said. There was even a Christmas party for the residents on Friday, he said.

“Are we getting paid or are they just playing us?” Graves said. “Someone knows something. Something like this just doesn’t happen overnight.”

Eric Harvey, who worked in Northview’s nutrition department since 2008, said he noticed leaks in the building and other repairs that the owners were slow to fix. Over the summer, the trash bill went unpaid for weeks and trash piled up outside. He assumed the place would close at some point, but he didn’t think it would happen so suddenly. He is worried about the residents.

“You start moving a lot of older people and taking them out of their comfort zone,” Harvey said, “and their health starts to deteriorate.”

The Post-Dispatch’s Vanessa Abbitt and Annika Merrilees contributed to this report.

Nursing home in North St. Louis is closing

A man helps Michele Waller load items into her trunk at Northview Village Nursing Home in St. Louis on Saturday, Dec. 16, 2023. The residential facility suddenly closed, much to the dismay of staff, volunteers and relatives of residents who returned to find their belongings and information about the whereabouts of loved ones. Waller worked there as a receptionist for five years while her mother worked there as a housekeeper. Photo by Vanessa Abbitt, [email protected]

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Nursing home in North St. Louis is closing

A fourth floor room sits empty at Northview Village Nursing Home in St. Louis on Saturday, December 16, 2023. The residential facility suddenly closed, much to the dismay of staff, volunteers and relatives of residents who returned to find their belongings and information about the whereabouts of loved ones. Photo by Vanessa Abbitt, [email protected]

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Nursing home in North St. Louis is closing

On Saturday, December 16, 2023, mobility aids and other items were left near the lobby of Northview Village nursing home in St. Louis. The residential facility suddenly closed, much to the outrage of staff, volunteers and relatives of residents who returned to find belongings and information about the whereabouts of loved ones. Photo by Vanessa Abbitt, [email protected]

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Nursing home in North St. Louis is closing

Desks containing people’s belongings are left in a room on the first floor of Northview Village Nursing Home in St. Louis on Saturday, December 16, 2023. The residential facility was suddenly closed, much to the outrage of staff, volunteers and residents’ families. When they returned, they found their belongings and information about their loved ones’ whereabouts. Photo by Vanessa Abbitt, [email protected]

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Nursing home in North St. Louis is closing

A note reading “Don’t rush, put things in the right place where they belong” is placed in a room on the ground floor of the Northview Village nursing home in St. Louis on Saturday, December 16, 2023. The residential complex was suddenly closed, much to the dismay of staff, volunteers and relatives of residents who returned to find their belongings and information about their loved ones’ whereabouts. Photo by Vanessa Abbitt, [email protected]

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Nursing home in North St. Louis is closing

A man loads things into his car outside Northview Village Nursing Home in St. Louis on Saturday, Dec. 16, 2023. The residential facility suddenly closed, much to the dismay of staff, volunteers and relatives of residents who returned to find their belongings and information about the whereabouts of loved ones. Photo by Vanessa Abbitt, [email protected]

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Nursing home in North St. Louis is closing

A sign lists the rights of residents of long-term care facilities at Northview Village Nursing Home in St. Louis on Saturday, Dec. 16, 2023. The residential facility was suddenly closed, much to the outrage of staff, volunteers and relatives of returning residents to find their belongings and information about the whereabouts of loved ones. Photo by Vanessa Abbitt, [email protected]

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Nursing home in North St. Louis is closing

Lisa Smith (left) speaks with Vera Turner, a pastor who arrived at Northview Village Nursing Home on Saturday, December 16, to meet with her friend, a resident and a volunteer who asked not to be named will meet in St. Louis, 2023. The condominium suddenly closed, much to the outrage of staff, volunteers and relatives of residents who returned to find their belongings and information about their loved ones’ whereabouts. Photo by Vanessa Abbitt, [email protected]

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Nursing home in North St. Louis is closing

A woman, who did not want to be named, sits with watery eyes in the lobby of Northview Village Nursing Home in St. Louis on Saturday, Dec. 16, 2023. The residential facility suddenly closed, much to the dismay of the staff. Volunteers and relatives of residents who returned to find their belongings and information about the whereabouts of their loved ones. The woman has been volunteering at the facility for 21 years. Photo by Vanessa Abbitt, [email protected]

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