PAXTON — Accolade Healthcare has shut down one of its nursing homes in Paxton but purchased another, making the company the sole provider of long-term care in the Ford County seat.
Accolade Healthcare owner Moe Freedman said his firm closed Accolade Healthcare of Paxton, located at 1240 N. Market St., effective Nov. 1.
The residents and staff of the nursing home were given the opportunity to transfer to the other two nursing homes in Paxton — Accolade Healthcare of Paxton Senior Living at 450 E. Fulton St. and the former Heartland Health Care Center at 1001 E. Pells St., Freedman said.
Freedman’s company purchased the Pells Street nursing home effective Oct. 17, renaming it Accolade Healthcare of Paxton on Pells. All of its staff was retained, Freedman said.
Meanwhile, the majority of the residents at the shuttered facility on North Market Street decided to stay with Accolade, Freedman said.
The transition of closing one nursing home and buying another has gone well so far, Freedman said.
"You can never expect it to be 100 percent perfect from the get-go, but from a priority standpoint of making sure residents are safe and comfortable and taken care of, that went seamlessly," Freedman said. "Overall, I’m incredibly pleased with the way all the teams (of staff) kind of came together and really worked hard to make sure that we were able to accomplish what we did. They did an incredible job."
Freedman said he would like to turn the North Market Street facility into an assisted-living center in the future, as long as market conditions allow it.
"The goal is to covert it to assisted living over time," Freedman said. "I just need to make sure that the region can support something like that. I would love to keep that property in the hands of senior care to some extent or another.
"I think the biggest struggle right now is just getting the financial wherewithal to be able to convert it, because it’s going to take a couple million dollars to transition that building to make it appropriate for assisted living. I’m feeling out for investors and doing more of a market study now. I would definitely encourage people to email us (at email@example.com) and let us know if they would consider getting on a waiting list (as a prospective resident of the assisted-living facility). That would help me get a better gauge on what the market would support."
In August, Freedman said it was a "very well-calculated decision" that he had to make when it came to the future of the Market Street facility. Ultimately, the decision to close it was made due to the lack of beds filled at the location, combined with a lack of available nursing staff.
With the move, Freedman explained, a greater percentage of licensed beds will be filled at Paxton’s two remaining nursing homes. Also, the pool of qualified nursing staff to work at those two facilities will have grown, Freedman said.
Prior to the North Market Street facility closing, the three nursing homes had a combined 250 licensed beds, but some 100 of those remained empty on an average day, Freedman said. The 76-bed Market Street facility had only 55 residents as of August.
Now, there are 181 available beds in Paxton, with 75 at the Fulton Street location and 106 at the Pells Street facility, Freedman said. That brings the supply closer to the actual demand, he noted.
"There were too many facilities in town, and I think right now we’re down to the right service size," Freedman said.
Accolade, which bought the Market Street and Fulton Street nursing homes in 2017, is now the second-largest employer in Paxton.
"Our responsibility of being the sole provider for long-term care in the area doesn’t go without understanding that responsibility," Freedman said. "We’re just going to continue carrying on and bettering ourselves all the time and make sure that we’re holding up our end of the bargain. ... We’re excited for the future and what we’re able to do for our staff and residents."