Salem Village Closing March 15 – Caregivers receive required 60-days’ notice

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By Stephanie Irvine

Residents at Salem Village Nursing Home and Rehabilitation in Joliet will be forced to call someplace else home after caregivers received a phone call several days ago notifying them the facility would be closing, and they were being given their contractually-obligated 60 days’ notice.

The 266-bed operation is a privately owned skilled nursing facility that boasts a “full spectrum of care including rehabilitation, short-term skilled care and long-term care. We provide 24-hour medical care and supportive services to our residents” on its website. According to state records, the facility opened in 1998.

Nothing on the facility’s website currently indicates the imminent closure. Staff was advised their last day would be March 15, and the closure was due to post-pandemic staffing issues.

Contacted Tuesday morning, Salem Village’s Administrator Jack Kropp provided some insight into why Salem Village was closing.

“Financial reasons. The owner was just not able to keep up on payments. A building he owned in Missouri closed last month,” said Kropp.

“We made so much progress since then. It just was not meant to be,” said Kropp, who was hired in August 2023. Prior to working at Salem Village, Kropp’s LinkedIn profile indicated he was employed in his last position with AbleHearts at Inverness Health and Rehab until May 2023.

Caregivers or those in charge of the care of residents at Salem Village reported they were notified by phone advising them of the closure late last week. No further information was provided other than that social workers would be in touch to provide assistance relocating residents.

The closure came as a surprise to many online and to those with loved ones living there.

Haeven Prendergast, who handles her grandmother Barbara “Barbie” Hentsch’s care, advised that she received a phone call on Friday, Jan. 12.

“It was a three-minute phone call. ‘Hi, we’re calling with kind of bad news. We’re closing our facility within 60 days.’ And that’s really all they said,” Prendergast said. “I asked how do I go about placing grandma, and they said they’d call on Monday.”

Prendergast said she did not receive a call today, but the person may have forgotten Monday is Martin Luther King Jr. Day. She said a person from a Lemont nursing home called her, but she didn’t know if it was related to Salem Village’s closure.

Hentsch is a resident on the sixth floor, which is the assisted-living floor of the facility. Sixth-floor residents are primarily self-sufficient, but have prescribed medications given to them by nursing staff, are provided meals and have access to 24-hour nursing care on staff.

“She has wonderful staff for the most part,” said Prendergast, who spoke highly of her grandmother’s care team, and specifically praised her head nurse before adding, “I don’t have much bad to say about them.”

Hentsch has been at Salem Village for about 10 years. Of her time there, Prendergast said her grandmother was happy and content.

“She’s been happy, but since COVID, the quality has really gone downhill. The quality of the food especially. I also think they can’t find workers or keep them by any means. Housekeeping, nurses, anybody.

“I mean, it’s bad. They probably have 10 really good routine people, and they’re so good. I love them. It sucks that they can’t keep anyone else.”

Those with loved ones at Salem Village were not given any official reasons for the closure, though social media posts also speculated that staffing issues could have been the cause.

“Definitely closing,” said one resident in a comment on a Facebook post questioning the closure in a New Lenox community group. She continued, “Announced 1/11/2024. An already short staffed operation and now expecting half the staff to quit coming to work. Pray for the residents and all who lost their job.”

The Facebook commenter declined to be interviewed for further information.

The privately-owned Salem Village Nursing and Rehab residential facility is one of 10 nursing homes in Joliet and one of 22 in Will County that are Medicaid- and Medicare-certified facilities.

According to the 2022 Census, Will County’s elderly population is at 14.7% of the county’s 696,757 residents, which calculates to approximately 102,423 people over the age of 65.

Salem Village Nursing and Rehabilitation has had its issues, including being named as a defendant in six wrongful death lawsuits currently pending in Will County courts.

The facility also has been subject to numerous citations following state and federal inspections in 2023.

The Illinois Department of Public Health noted several reportable offenses in March of 2023, with some residents suffering injury as a result of frayed transfer straps and broken slings used to move patients at the facility. The report also noted there was no set process to launder the slings.

Overall, the report found the following licensure violations: Resident Care Policies 300.610 a), General Requirements for Nursing and Personal Care 300.1210 b), 300.1210 c), 300.1210 d) 6) which refer to the state administrative code governing skilled nursing and intermediate care facilities.

The March 2023 IDPH report continued, “Based on observation, interview, and record review, the facility failed to ensure staff performed safe transfers while using a resident sling with a mechanical lift. These failures resulted in a sling breaking while R1 was transferred with the mechanical lift. R1 sustained a laceration to her left forehead requiring 3 staples.

The facility also failed to provide adequate supervision to a resident displaying aggressive behaviors (R6).”

Federal inspection reports noted myriad issues of care, some affecting only a few residents with minimal harm, but some violations were classified as “actual harm” occurring.

The facility has a 2 Star rating on a 5-point scale from Medicare.gov, alongside a consumer alert red stop icon warning them that the facility has been cited for potential issues related to abuse.

An August 2023 report noted the facility had a problem with pests, as roaches were observed “scurrying under the ice machine” and flies and fruit flies were “observed landing on slices of cake.”

The Fire Safety Inspection & Emergency Preparedness Summary provided by Medicare noted that over the last three years, the facility had 15 citations for emergency preparedness deficiencies, four building construction deficiencies, eight service and egress deficiencies respectively, 22 smoke deficiencies, and 7 gas, vacuum, and electrical systems deficiencies, and five miscellaneous deficiencies.

Most of these deficiencies were designated as level 2 deficiencies, defined as “Minimal harm or potential or actual harm.”

In addition, the federal government fined the facility four times totaling $159,796. In the past three years.

The wrongful death lawsuits against the facility are unrelated to the homicide that occurred this past fall when two male residents had an altercation stemming from an argument over a washing machine.

In that incident, resident William “Bill” Paschall, 71, allegedly beat 61-year old Michael Pappas with his walker until he was unresponsive, resulting in his death. Paschall was charged with two counts of aggravated battery, first-degree murder, and battery to a person aged 60 years or older. His case is pending in Will County court.

Developing story. Check back for details.

Stephanie Irvine is a freelance reporter.

 

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