LATEST NEWS Vashon Community Care to cease services by year end

Vashon Community Care (VCC) has announced plans to close its doors by the end of the year.

Residents, families and staff were informed today of the decision to stop providing assisted living and memory services; an email was also sent this afternoon to community members.

In a press release, VCC Executive Director Wendy Kleppe and Jeff Slichta, Executive Vice President of Housing and Hospitality at Transforming Age, the nonprofit that has owned VCC since 2017, partially explained the decision, citing factors that included a critical budget deficit. .

The press release also cited a decrease in demand for assisted living services and ongoing staff shortages and said the pandemic had escalated all factors, as well as made day-to-day operations much more expensive and difficult.

“We know the island community cares deeply about VCC and our residents,” Slichta said. “But these latest challenges have made it so that VCC can no longer continue.”

The closure of the facility will displace some of Vashon’s most vulnerable residents.

VCC residents currently occupy 40 apartments at Aspiri Gardens Assisted Living and 16 apartments at Beardsley Memory Support. All of these residents will now have to relocate by the end of the year, an effort in which VCC will provide support and assistance, said Wendy Kleppe, CEO of VCC.

“As we move forward with our intention to end services at VCC, we will focus on supporting our residents, families and team members,” Kleppe said. “We will meet with residents and families to help them find another retirement home or other housing option that meets their needs.

VCC will also pay the moving costs and help with other logistical tasks.

The press release also promised that VCC will work with current staff members to help them find new employment, including an ongoing resume and job search support. In addition, VCC will offer retention bonuses for employees who stay until the end of the year.

“We will do our best to take care of our team members and help them during the transition,” Kleppe said.

VCC has been losing money for several years and relies on Transforming Age to compensate for its operating losses. In total, Transforming Age has supported VCC with over $ 4 million since 2018.

The press release also said that Vashon Community Care would consider all viable options for the existing building, including reallocating the building for other uses that would benefit the local community and continue to be a resource for the island. The VCC took initial steps with a task force of community leaders from Vashon to explore housing and social service needs and how the building could be used.

In an email to the community, VCC’s Director of Development Anne Atwell explained some of the reasons for the decision to shut down the facility, saying that VCC’s average occupancy rate, since January 0, 2020, was only 68% – part of a downward trend in demand for assisted living spaces.

She also said Vashon has become increasingly a difficult place to hire, train and retain employees, due to its high cost of living, affordable housing and the challenges of daily ferry trips. VCC worked with four different recruiting agencies, she said, and was still unable to hire enough staff to meet the requirements of an assisted living and nursing home. 24/7 memory.

With the closure of VCC, Vashon will lose a valuable and long-standing community resource – a resource the islanders have already fought to save.

The facility has roots dating back to 1928, when Goodwill Industries purchased the Ellsworth Ranch and established a working farm and boarding house for the underprivileged men and women of Seattle. It was then sold to a couple who also operated the farm and land as a rehabilitation site, and later as a nursing home as their residents aged. Years passed and the property changed hands several times, but continued to operate as a care facility until 1995, when the then owners announced their intention to close the facility – A decision that would displace 36 residents.

But the community mobilized to save the healthcare establishment.

According to island historian Bruce Haulman, an effort led by Ted Kutscher and Ted Clabaugh brought together 30 islanders who pledged loans to secure the lease on the property. In less than two weeks, activists organized a nonprofit, Vashon Community Care Center, to keep the facility running.

The group quickly discovered that an entirely new facility would be required within five years due to the deteriorating condition of the original building and new regulations for health centers. The board of directors of the Vashon Community Care Center rose to the challenge and requested the cooperation of Providence Health System to purchase the property and plan the construction of a new facility.

The new building, with an assisted living facility with 40 apartments, a 30-bed nursing home and a five-day-a-week adult child care program, opened in August 2001, managed by Providence Mount St. Vincent.

The relationship with Providence ended in 2017, and VCC’s affiliation with Transforming Age began. In 2019, VCC announced the closure of its skilled nursing facility and initiated a project to renovate this wing of the facility, turning all 16 resident rooms into studios for those in need of enhanced assisted living services and memory care. At the same time, Transforming Age announced that VCC will launch a $ 3 million fundraising campaign to fund renovations and other building improvements.

Based in Bellevue, Wash., Transforming Age owns and operates 47 retirement homes and employs over 2,000 people.

This is a developing story.

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