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Goddard House nursing, rehabilitation center in Jamaica Plain to close in Sept.

Posted by Matt Rocheleau  July 12, 2012 03:11 PM

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(Goddard House)

The Goddard House Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, housed for the past 85 years in the Shepley Bulfinch in Jamaica Plain, will soon close.

The Goddard House Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, a 24-hour skilled nursing senior care facility in Jamaica Plain, will close on Sept. 8, the nonprofit’s trustee board announced Thursday.

Board member Emily Brower said Thursday that the agency is focused on doing all that it can over the next two months to help some 100 resident patients and their families, along with 135 workers, during this “very difficult time.”

The organization plans to work closely with both groups to help them transition to other healthcare facilities, she said. Analysis shows that the there is capacity in the local market for patients to find other skilled nursing care options nearby, the board said.

“We are firmly dedicated to supporting our residents and staff throughout this process, and we have a number of measures in place to ensure a smooth transition,” said a statement from Elizabeth Molodovsky, president of the Goddard House Board of Trustees.

Goddard House’s plans include arranging a job fair for staff members, who also will receive bonus pay in amounts that will be based on how long they have worked there, Brower said.

The future of the property has not been discussed, she said; the board has “explicitly put off any discussions about the property.”

The organization’s facility in Brookline will remain open. That center provides assisted living care in a newer building, but, unlike the site in Jamaica Plain, does not offer licensed skilled nursing care, Brower said.

The decision to shutter the 85-year-old building in Jamaica Plain, first reported on by the Jamaica Plain Gazette, was part of a planning process that found that the facility’s current conditions were lacking and that the building’s need for upgrades would not have been an efficient use of resources.

Needed renovations would cost more than $10 million and would require residents to be relocated while the work is done, according to the board. The building would need to be fully equipped with fire sprinklers by Aug. 2013, a federally-required fix.

Market dynamics and trends in senior care call for single rooms with space for current technology and equipment, officials said. But, the senior building’s rooms are undersized; its communal bathrooms and hallways are narrow.

“We do not make the decision lightly to close Goddard House Jamaica Plain, but we do make it with the firm belief that we can better support Boston’s seniors by investing our resources in services, not updating a facility,” Molodovsky’s statement said.

If the organization chose to do the needed renovations, “We would have a facility that is better, but still not responsive to the needs of the elders in Boston,” Brower added.

Moldovsky in her statement said that “with current trends in senior care pointing toward home-based care, we are seeing a greater need for services outside of the traditional nursing home model.

The board said that the national rate of nursing home use among seniors decreased by about 20 percent in recent years despite that the overall senior population grew by nearly 19 percent over that same time.

Between 1995 and 2011, the organization said that number of available nursing home beds in Massachusetts dropped by about 15 percent. Meanwhile, the proportion of empty beds grew from about 5 percent to 10 percent.

Brower said that the board plans to take several months to consider other ways that the organization can continue its mission of supporting Boston’s elderly population, particularly those who have limited access to healthcare and other services.

The Goddard House was founded in 1849 at another site in Boston before moving to its current Shepley Bulfinch building in 1927.

"It's been a very good facility with a very dedicated staff," Brower said.

The building is on a two-acre property along South Huntington Avenue that the city has assessed as being worth $6.1 million.

It is located near where developers have recently proposed constructing nearly 400 new residential units, which has drawn concern from some in the neighborhood.

The site of the Goddard House in Jamaica Plain is adjacent to a 3.5-acre plot that the Home for Little Wanderers agency plans to move from this coming fall, leaving behind a campus that includes a 98-year-old facility. A private developer is in agreement to purchase that property at 161 S. Huntington Ave. and has proposed plans to raze the site to build nearly about 196 apartment units.

About 300 feet away from the Home for Little Wanderers’ property, another developer has said it hopes to build 195 apartments with ground-floor retail on a vacant, wooded lot at 105A S. Huntington Ave.

E-mail Matt Rocheleau at mjrochele@gmail.com.
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