Former Baptist facility closing

Trinity Health & Rehabilitation Center, 700 Williams Ferry Road in Lenoir City, previously known as Baptist Health Care Center, is closing.

A recent decision to close Trinity Health & Rehabilitation Center, formerly known as Baptist Health Care Center, in Lenoir City has required families to make a quick choice on where to place loved ones.

Families were told Nov. 12 of the decision by ClearView Healthcare Management representatives.

ClearView, a Louisville, Ky., company established in January 2018, has offered to transfer residents to one of four locations it operates, including Loudon’s River Grove Health and Rehabilitation, which has been under the company’s supervision since July. ClearView is also offering two centers in Maryville and one in Knoxville.

“The transfer of ownership is in the process right now. We transferred operations today,” Mick Vujanovic, ClearView chief operating officer, said after the Nov. 12 meeting with families of residents. “We’re hoping that can be complete by the end of the month.”

A notice to all vendors and suppliers of Lenoir Healthcare LLC, doing business as Trinity Health & Rehabilitation Center, from executive director Thomas D. Johnson notes as of Dec. 1 the facility will be under new ownership and management and, unless advised by the new owner, the services provided will no longer be needed.

Trinity Health & Rehabilitation Center took possession of Baptist Health Care Center on Jan. 1, 2018.

Vujanovic stressed that hopes are to transfer all Trinity staff to River Grove.

Plans to sell the property had been something the former owner considered for a while, Vujanovic said. When asked why residents and families were not informed earlier, he said it was the owner’s preference.

Vujanovic said three options will be considered once the facility is cleared, including the possibility of renovating, selling or donating the building. He claimed the building was not being maintained.

“Right now our primary concern is the safety of these residents and effectively transferring them outside of the building,” he said. “Once we effectively transfer all of the residents safely out of this community, then we’ll be able to assess our options. ... They can be here as long as they need to until we can find safe transfer.”

The meeting resolved questions for some families, while leaving others needing answers.

Jerry Poole’s mother-in-law, who suffers from the first stages of dementia, has been at Trinity about four years. She needs a room by herself to avoid issues with other residents, Poole said.

Last week came as a surprise, and having to move his mother-in-law to another site could be worrisome if no facility can provide the services she needs. He and his wife have looked at River Grove and one of the two facilities in Maryville. The center in Knoxville is too far away, he said.

“If it doesn’t have a place for her by herself, then this whole situation’s going to put my mother-in-law out to another place that has nothing to do with this new company that’s bought the nursing home,” Poole said. ... Most of the really, really high-end paying nursing homes has got everything we need, but we can’t afford it on her choices and the little bit of income that she gets in Social Security. We’re already putting money out of our pocket with her money, out of my pocket, to put her where she’s at now. It’s shoved us into a corner, really. If they don’t have a one-bedroom for her in Maryville, then my only other option is to make them pay for something that is one bedroom in Maryville. That means me having to get an attorney and I don’t want to have to do that.”

Poole was frustrated with how the sale was handled by the former owner, pointing to a document that was signed when his mother-in-law first moved into the facility.

“I don’t like that the owner of the company made us sign a contract when we came to the nursing home there in Lenoir City and the contract that we signed it stated that he has to give — the nursing home is sold or closes down — they have to give us, if I’m not mistaken, I believe it says 60 days. If not, it does say 30,” he said. “The fact that the owner ... would not put the residents ahead of the sale and say, ‘Hey, I’ve got to let these people know that — you may not let them know, I may not let you contact them, but I’m going to contact them and let them know that the nursing home will be closing in 30 or 60 days.’ ... He should have honored the contract and that way we wouldn’t feel pressured so quick.”

Moving residents was purely a business decision, he said.

“It’s a business deal is what it is,” Poole said. “... It’s about the money.”

Trinity currently houses 48 residents. Vujanovic said there was enough space for all to transfer to River Grove.

Doug Faragher was pleased with where his 98-year-old mother-in-law will be going in Loudon.

“The shock was the day before we were told they had to be out by the end of the month,” he said. “Not sure what the place was like and all that, but we actually visited the new facility today and they’ve done a lot of renovations and it’s going to I think be very positive.”

Faragher understood why some may be upset with the news.

“It’s just that change of scenery and all that stuff,” he said. “I think the big plus though is the staff moving over there with them so they’ll have those people. Yeah, that is definitely going to be a change. We’re going to probably move her next week, but we wanted to be sure the weather was a little warmer and more closer to normal.”