A Fort Dodge nursing home and its adjacent assisted living facility are preparing to close their doors after a state agency took over when the owner reported their precarious financial situation.
The Villa Care Center, 2721 10th Ave. N., and Villa Cottages, 925 Martin Luther King Drive, are among six Iowa nursing facilities owned by Blue Care Homes LLC that have been placed into receivership by the Department of Inspections and of Iowa Appeals. Villa Care Center also operates under the names of Webster Post Acute Rehabilitation and QHC Fort Dodge.
According to DIA, the owner of Blue Care Homes LLC, which is based in New Jersey, notified DIA that it was “unable and/or unwilling” to continue operations at the six Iowa facilities. Two days later, the DIA filed petitions for receivership of the facilities in the District Court, filing that “the facility is unable and has failed to operate and conduct the healthcare facility in compliance” with Iowa law .
“In light of the current financial condition and operating circumstances at QHC Fort Dodge, the Department believes that extraordinary action is needed to protect the health and safety of residents,” the petition reads.
The DIA has asked the court to appoint Kansas City attorney Michael F. Flanagan as bankruptcy trustee to continue operating the facilities in line with federal and state requirements while residents are relocated and the facilities are closed.
Blue Care Homes’ attorney contacted the DIA “with emergency concerns” about Blue Care’s ability to meet payroll for its Iowa facilities late Friday afternoon, Jan. 20, according to a exhibit filed to supplement the petition. . The filing said Sam Haikins, owner of Blue Care Homes, “promptly cut communication” with Blue Care’s legal counsel and the DIA for “over 24 hours.”
“During that time, the Department initiated an emergency investigation into the state of operations at the defendant’s facility, including the facility’s financial management and viability,” the petition reads.
During a meeting between Haikins and the DIA on Jan. 23, Haikins told the department the nursing home chain was behind on payroll and she didn’t know how that would affect staffing at the facilities.
According to the court filing, DIA has since learned that Blue Care Homes is also significantly behind on payments to “critical suppliers,” “including utility companies who have advised that utility outages are imminent.”
On January 26, Flanagan was appointed by the courts to serve as interim director of the six Iowa facilities as they begin relocating the 263 affected residents and close operations. According to the DIA, Flanagan has “significant receivership experience.”
At present, the DIA or Blue Care Homes has not released anything on what the process of moving residents will look like. Federal and state regulations require facilities to remain open during this transition period: 60 days for nursing and skilled nursing facilities and 90 days for assisted living facilities.
According to the DIA, the Villa Care Center has 61 current residents and the Villa Cottages has 14.
The Messenger reached out to Villa Care Center administrator Laci Hoover for comment and was referred by another employee to Stefanie Bond, a DIA attorney. A phone call to Bond was not returned as of press time on Tuesday.
This is only the second time the DIA has filed for receivership, the department says. The first time was in July 2022 for a facility in Sioux City.
The Villa Care Center and Villa Cottages were part of the QHC Facilities care home chain which filed for bankruptcy early last year and was sold last fall to Blue Diamond Equities, also known as Blue Care Homes, for 4.5 million dollars, according to the Iowa Capital Dispatch.
Other affected nursing homes and assisted living facilities include:
Humboldt Wellness and Rehabilitation, aka Humboldt Care Center (45 current residents)
Timber City Wellness and Rehabilitation aka Crestridge Care Center in Maquoketa (58 current residents)
Madison Wellness and Rehabilitation aka Winterset Care Center North (52 current residents)
Madison Square ALP/D in Winterset (33 current residents)