Government

Residents of closing New Horizons program have time to find new placements, building's buyer says

Catherine McAuley Center phasing-in possession, director says

UnityPoint Health-Cedar Rapids’ Living Center East building at 1220 Fifth Ave. SE. (The Gazette)
UnityPoint Health-Cedar Rapids’ Living Center East building at 1220 Fifth Ave. SE. (The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — The families of residents at a Cedar Rapids long-term care facility closing its doors early next year will have plenty of time to find new placements for their loved ones, the new buyer says.

The not-for-profit Catherine McAuley Center has purchased the building housing Living Centers East, a UnityPoint Health-Cedar Rapids facility that is home to both a skilled nursing program as well as a 26-bed group living environment for intellectually disabled individuals.

In part due to that purchase, the program for intellectually disabled individuals, called New Horizons, is anticipated to discontinue operations on Feb. 1.

The program — which cares for individuals with moderate to severe and profound disabilities that require nursing supervision — is a designated Intermediate Care Facility for the Intellectually Disabled, a Medicaid benefit that enables states to individualize services as an alternative to home- and community-based service waivers.

Paula Land, executive director of the Catherine McAuley Center, told The Gazette Thursday the center has made accommodations to UnityPoint Health officials to allow for a longer term transition of ownership.

“In fact, we’re going to have a more phased-in approach to our taking possession of that facility so that we can allow the New Horizons residents the time they need to find a new home,” she said.

Catherine McAuley will take possession of the building, 1220 Fifth Ave. SE, by fall 2019.

Land said UnityPoint Health-Cedar Rapids will be out of the building once they take possession, but added there have been conversations since the beginning “about making allowances for New Horizons to remain beyond that date, up to a few years, as necessary.”

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“We’ve extended that time quite a bit just to allow some flexibility from their standpoint because we know it is a sensitive issue and they care about these families and want to do the best by them,” Land said.

Twenty-five residents currently are in New Horizons.

St. Luke’s spokeswoman Sarah Corizzo said in an emailed statement UnityPoint Health-Cedar Rapids has hired a private contractor to find placements in smaller, more homelike facilities “that provide community integrated services.”

Available facilities have been identified in Dubuque, Maquoketa, DeWitt and Guttenberg.

Corizzo said these facilities are better suited to the state’s preference to place Intermediate Care Facility for the Intellectually Disabled program residents into homelike environments rather than group institutional living settings.

New Horizon’s closure is not related to Medicaid reimbursements, Corizzo noted.

Officials are preparing to move the skilled nursing beds also located in Living Center East to the new St. Luke’s Transitional Care Center, a $14.9 million skilled nursing and rehabilitation facility for short-term care that UnityPoint Health is building at 8400 N Council St. NE in Cedar Rapids.

Land said those patients will be moved by the time Catherine McAuley takes possession this fall.

The Catherine McAuley Center primarily serves the immigrant refugee population and women healing from trauma through educational and other supportive services.

Land said the center has experienced a lot of growth in the past few years, to the point it has outgrown its existing facility.

“This facility allows us to position all of our services under one roof and expand the amount of space we would have to expand our existing services and have room to grow,” she said.

Land declined to clarify if the McAuley Center plans to vacate its current location at 866 Fourth Ave. SE.

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Kelsey Steines, development and communications manager at the McAuley Center, said officials see potential for the current services the not-for-profit currently offers, including more space for its supportive and educational programs.

“The core of our services would remain the same, but we see a lot of potential for how we deliver those (services),” she said.

l Comments: (319) 368-8536; michaela.ramm@thegazette.com

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