Shifting state goals put rural nursing homes in death spiral

By Les Zaitz

The Enterprise

ONTARIO – The elderly woman had heard rumors of closure in the hallways of Presbyterian Community Care Center.

She learned the rumors were true when Cathleen Sullivan, the nursing home administrator, came to her room to tell her she would have to find a new home.

“When do I have to leave?” the resident asked.

Similar scenes played out in room after room as Sullivan delivered the news. And word of the impending closure rocketed through eastern Oregon’s nursing home industry. The challenges of rural health care had claimed another victim.

Reliance on nursing homes has declined across Oregon for decades. People now have more options than ever for care that ranges from weeks to years. Use of assisted living, residential care, and foster homes has mushroomed, according to state officials. They say consumers are less likely to resort to nursing homes, a . . .