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The need for a county nursing home is clear

I can remember when the issues concerning the closure of the Greenville long term care facility and subsequently, the loss of the Quincy Nursing Home began; it started in Greenville at Indian Valley Hospital more than a few years ago.

IVH once had one of the finest examples of long term care facilities anywhere. It was full most of the time, and people were treated like family, the medical staff was highly attentive, and the area was always clean and well kept. People from the outside visited often; they provided craft projects; played cards or other games with the patients; read to the ones who asked; helped to write letters to the patient’s families and acquaintances; entertained with music, (I played the piano there often); and sometimes people just came to sit and visit.

Then came the rumors that the hospital might close; I immediately asked one of our elected representatives, who happened to be speaking in Quincy about that time, what was to become of Indian Valley Hospital, he said, “It’s my opinion that Greenville will end up with a long term care facility, and an upscale First Aid Station.”

Well, that did not happen, the hospital, and the long term care unit, closed. I will never forget how those elderly, and very fragile, folks were bundled up and distributed to various other long term care facilities, out of the area, where ever there were available beds; I was told that one patient died during the transfer, the rest were highly stressed and fearful. Those that went to the nursing home in Quincy, were lucky, they were still close to their friends and families in Greenville and Indian Valley; it finally all settled down into a degree of acceptance, but that was also, soon to be disrupted.

Eventually, the Quincy Nursing Home announced it was closing, so again, patients were loaded up and distributed where ever there were available beds; for some, it was a second move, for most, it was to be a very long distance away.

I later visited one nursing home, and when I was getting ready to take photos for the friends and relatives of one long time Greenville are resident, he said to me: “Please, don’t embarrass me, you know this is not my home; having known him for many years, I understood immediately what he meant; his wife had earlier passed away in that same nursing home, miles from their lovely, country home, and long time community.

He was but one member of our community that consistently paid for glasses, or dental work, for needy children, and unless you understand how country folks feel about their home, family and community, you might not know of what I’m saying, but the closure of our long term care facility was a devastating loss, just following another devastating loss, that of our logging economy. I still refer to it as the period of “abusive displacement.”

Now, there are three hospitals left in Plumas County, all with a limited number of long term care beds. There’s close to 20,000 people living here, county wide, and a great many of them are senior citizens, many of which will probably be needing some type of retirement facility or nursing home in the very near future. Most of these folks will have to leave their home area for parts unknown and, probably, for the rest of their lives, and visits by home town folks will be few and far between, especially during the long winter months.

Having been a volunteer Long Term Care Ombudsman for a few years, I feel we could have done better right at the start of what I still refer to as “a travesty,” but no one kicked up any dust, it just all went along quietly with very little, if any, organized opposition, other than the usual letters to the editor; phone calls for confirmation of rumors; many employees expressing their disbelief, and also sick over having lost their jobs; families of the patients doing what they could do to adjust to the added stress of losing day to day contact with their loved one, or, in a few cases, more than one loved one; and on it goes.

What’s ahead now for those folks who will soon need a long term care facility, assisted living, and/or a nursing Home only to find them full, and with long waiting lists? Somehow, I feel we’re moving in the wrong direction, everything points to an increase in the need for more senior accommodations, medically and otherwise, but the day to day accessibility is consistently dwindling. The real issue now might be, can Plumas County afford to build another County Nursing Facility? It’s an idea to ponder, and I’d say, the sooner the better.

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