VCC announces end to skilled nursing care at island facility

Transforming Age, VCC officials say the center will offer enhanced assisted living and memory care.

Vashon Community Care is closing its skilled nursing facility and will begin offering memory care in its place, officials there announced Wednesday afternoon.

This news comes less than a year and a half after the care center affiliated with Bellevue-based Transforming Age in the hope of making the island care center financially sustainable. According to a press release issued by Transforming Age and Vashon Community Care, that goal was not met. Transforming Age has provided more than $2 million in cash contributions since it affiliated with VCC, the release stated, but the cost to provide skilled nursing services “significantly exceeds” the reimbursement for that care. Changes to Medicaid reimbursement are also slated to be reduced by $38 per day per resident, reducing revenue by approximately $166,000 annually.

The result is that Vashon Community Care will discontinue its skilled nursing care and will be relocating its long-term skilled nursing residents to other long-term care facilities in the coming weeks and months. The release indicated those plans are underway.

“We are working with regulators, residents and families on a plan that ensures residents’ continued safety and proper care,” Mike Schwartz, executive director at VCC, said in the statement.

Schwartz said it is unclear yet how many residents will need to be moved, but that number should be clear within two to three weeks. Currently, there are 22 residents in the 30-bed skilled nursing facility.

The new plan for Vashon Community Care includes a “higher level” of assisted living care than is currently offered and memory care for islanders with dementia.

The press release also quoted Torsten Hirche, president and CEO of Transforming Age, saying it remains focused on the mission of providing high-quality care to residents as well as to enhancing the VCC building.

“We are confident that this plan will help us to better serve our residents, families, team members, and community by providing sustainability so that future residents of Vashon Island can have a choice on the Island to receive care and services,” Hirche said.

Care center officials reportedly shared the news with resident families and supporters on Wednesday afternoon in a meeting and through email.

For more than 20 years, Vashon Community Care was affiliated with Providence Senior & Community Services, but the partnership came to a close in 2017. The Vashon Community Care board then sought a new partner to affiliate with; Transforming Age was the only entity that was interested.

When the new partnership was announced, enthusiasm was expressed on both sides.

Verna Everitt, who headed the now-disbanded Vashon Community Care Foundation, said affiliating with Transforming Age would provide new opportunities for VCC, which all along has required considerable community support to keep its doors open.

“I am excited that they are coming in to align with our values and our shared mission. As a nonprofit, they are investing in our future. That is exactly what we all wanted,” she said at the time.

Transforming Age President and CEO Torsten Hirche shared similar thoughts in the fall of 2017.

“Our mission as a nonprofit is to serve seniors, and we are always looking for like-minded organizations to join with,” he said then. “We believe that working together will make us stronger in the long run.”

This story is developing and will be updated.

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