Calusa Harbour Senior Living in downtown Fort Myers is laying off 79 employees starting June 21 as part of a corporate decision to close skilled nursing units at some long-term care communities around the country.
The retirement community at 2525 First St. is operated by Newtown, Massachusetts-based Five Star Senior Living, and one of three in the state where skilled nursing units will close with layoffs.
The other communities are The Forum at Deer Creek Senior Living in Deerfield Beach where 67 employees will lose their jobs and the third is The Court at Palm Aire Senior Living in Pompano Beach where 54 employees will be let go, according to April 21 notices to the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity about the pending job cuts.
The bulk of the positions at Calusa Harbour that will be cut are certified nurse’s aides and a handful each involve dietary aides, licensed practical nurses, registered nurses, occupational therapists and housekeepers. An administrator, admissions coordinator, director of nursing and other supervisory employees will be eliminated.
In a statement, Calusa Harbour said it has been working with the families and residents who need to be transferred out of the skilled nursing unit and arrangements have been made for all of them.
Calusa declined to say how many residents in the skilled nursing unit are impacted.
“In fact, many residents living in the skilled nursing units were short-term residents who have now completed their rehabilitation programs and transitioned back to their homes in independent living and assisted living here at Calusa Harbour,” the statement said. “Until all residents and clients have been safely and successfully relocated, our healthcare unit and inpatient (clinic) will remain fully operational.”
The long-term care business nationwide is facing workforce shortages brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, and so the displaced workers from Calusa Harbour should find new jobs, according to an industry representative.
“Given the ongoing workforce crisis, there will no doubt be many opportunities for (certified nurses’ aides) and other health care workers who want to continue to do this important work,” Nick Van Der Linden, spokesman for LeadingAge Florida in Tallahassee, said in an email. LeadingAge advocates for quality senior living and aging services.
Calusa Harbour said in the statement that all impacted employees have found new jobs.
Five Star announced in April that it will completely exit the skilled nursing business by closing 27 skilled nursing units at continuing care retirement communities and transition management of 108 senior communities to other operators.
The company is a senior living and rehabilitation and wellness services firm that operates 252 senior communities in 31 states. That involves 228 communities that Five Star manages and 24 communities that it owns or leases, according to its financial reports.
The company’s plan is to focus on larger independent living, assisted living and memory care communities as well as stand-alone active adult and independent living communities, according to the company announcement.
Five Star reported net income of $3.3 million for the first quarter of 2021, compared to a net loss of $17.2 million for the first quarter of 2020, which included $23 million in one-time expenses related to terminating leases for five senior communities it managed.
The net income included $7.8 million from the federal government under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, or CARES Act.
Average occupancy at the 228 communities managed by Five Star was 69.5%, according to its first quarter financial report.
Van Der Linden of LeadingAge said the pandemic affected every long-term care provider financially due to expenses incurred for protecting residents and employees from contracting the virus.
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“Providers have reported spending anywhere from $100,000 a month to as much as $3 million a month to purchase and distribute (personal protective equipment) to employees, conduct routine testing and obtain additional staff through outside agencies,” he said. “Provider revenues are also down as a result of fewer admissions across the continuum of care last year.”
Katherine Potter, president and chief executive officer of Five Star, said in a statement in April: “We believe that this shift in our focus is critical to the future success of Five Star and better positions us to expand our senior living management business and continue to diversify revenue sources in the future.”