CEDAR RAPIDS — For some local families, questions still remain after health care officials announced the closure of a Cedar Rapids-based care facility for intellectually disabled individuals.
For the Cedar Rapids family of Jana Kloubec, a 48-year-old quadriplegic with severe and profound intellectual disability, this closure means she soon will leave the facility she has lived in for the past 32 years.
“We’re all very devastated,” said Jana’s mother Nancy, 71.
The Kloubec family, as with many other area families, are left to look to the future of their loved ones after UnityPoint Health-Cedar Rapids announced the impending closure of New Horizons.
Officials are anticipating the 26-bed group living facility will close Feb. 1.
The announcement came in part due to the sale of Living Center East, the building at 1220 Fifth Ave. SE the program has occupied since the mid-1970s, to the Catherine McAuley Center.
“It’s not an easy decision for us, either. It was heartbreaking,” said Peg Bradke, UnityPoint vice president of post-acute care.
New Horizons houses 25 residents on the Intermediate Care Facility for the Intellectually Disabled, or ICF-ID, waiver, a Medicaid designation for individuals with moderate to severe and profound disabilities who require nursing supervision and structure.
“It’s served its purpose and it’s been a wonderful resource for Cedar Rapids, but it’s been 45-plus years old and it’s not where the future of ICF-ID is going,” Bradke said.
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According to families, there is nowhere else for Jana Kloubec and the other 24 residents to go to in the Cedar Rapids area.
Jim Kloubec, 73, Jana’s father, said the nearest facility is in DeWitt — about 60 miles away.
“It basically stops our family,” said Nancy Kloubec. “The biggest thing is that they’re basically dividing the kids — which are family — and keeping the parents away.”
UnityPoint Health officials have hired a consultant with expertise in ICF-ID waiver services to help families find placements, Bradke said.
The Kloubec family said they were given a list of providers in the Eastern Iowa area that could take their daughter as a resident.
However, Jody Donaldson, Jana’s sister, said not every provider has an opening. For example, some facilities only have openings for female or male residents, while some facilities may not have the capacity to take on Jana’s level of needs.
Living Center East also houses skilled nursing beds that will be moved to 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 Council St. NE in Cedar Rapids.
Many factors went into the closure, but UnityPoint’s Bradke emphasized the institutional setting New Horizons program offered was no longer the best way to care for these residents.
UnityPoint officials had spoken with area providers over the past two years leading up to the closure, and found state health care officials are encouraging a move away from the institutional setting such as New Horizons’. Instead, patients are better off in the long term in group home settings, officials said.
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The state does not mandate ICF-ID facilities to have group home environments, but “you certainly see where the quality is better when you don’t have 25 people all in one small wing,” Bradke said.
But Nancy Kloubec says she still feels strongly that the New Horizons program was good for her daughter.
“If it wasn’t a good place, our family members wouldn’t be living this long,” she said.
Bradke said once UnityPoint Health-St. Luke’s moved forward with construction of the new Transitional Care Center, the company that managed New Horizons — Heathcare of Iowa — no longer wished to do so.
UnityPoint officials found no one willing to take over management or ownership of the New Horizons program among the area providers with whom they spoke.
“They also told us they’re not interested in building because there are open beds in Iowa,” she said. “... Providers could build where they are at, but they don’t need to because they have open beds.”
Bradke said the decision to close New Horizons was not related to Medicaid in any manner.
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