Boulder’s Golden West, which has provided assisted living to low-income seniors for more than 30 years, will close its assisted living community on March 4.
The 33 residents, their families and staff at The Mezzanine received notice of the closure on Wednesday and will receive assistance in finding new housing and jobs over the next 60 days, according to a Golden West statement. . The Towers, Golden West independent living community of 253 units will remain open.
Golden West interim CEO John Torres said in a written statement that financial pressures prompted the decision by Golden West’s board of directors.
“Unfortunately, it is clear that the current financial environment will not allow us to meet our obligations to our caregivers and staff,” he wrote.
Since 1965, Golden West, a nonprofit organization at 1055 Adams Circle, has provided affordable housing for low- and middle-income seniors.
The Golden West Mezzanine opened in 1988 as one of four pilot projects funded by the Colorado Housing Finance Agency to provide assisted living to low-income seniors. In 1995, Golden West was certified by the Colorado Department of Health and the Environment to accept Medicaid payments for services to eligible seniors.
Since then, Torres said, Golden West has served both privately funded and Medicaid-only residents, offsetting lower Medicaid reimbursements to cover the actual cost of providing living assistance. relied on privately funded residents to
The mezzanine assisted living community operates on very thin margins and is supported by the financial strength of these private paying residents and the independent living community of The Towers, he said in a statement.
He added that nearly coincident with the start of the pandemic, Golden West began a major renovation project that reduced the occupancy of assisted living. While independent living community occupancy has returned to pre-pandemic levels, assisted living has not, operating “well below budget.”
Adding to the occupancy challenge, he wrote, is more competition for private paid seniors from newer, larger senior living apartments. Inflation, combined with a slight increase in Medicaid reimbursement rates, is further straining the budgets for running assisted living communities, he wrote.
Additionally, labor costs (the largest cost of welfare) have risen dramatically over the past few years, widening the gap between what Golden West receives from Medicaid and what it needs to recruit and train staff members. he wrote.
“We strongly believe that we have a duty to the health and wellbeing of our staff, and that includes being able to pay a decent wage,” he wrote. It was a painful and difficult decision, and we are committed to supporting our residents and staff through this transition in every way possible.”
Golden West’s board of directors continues to consider options for repurposing Mezzanine’s assets, according to a written statement.
With the closure of Golden West welfare facilities, only three of Boulder County’s 28 assisted living centers are still accepting Medicaid, according to Erica Corson, Elder Rights Program Manager for Boulder County Community Services.
In general, assisted living providers report Medicaid reimbursements are increasingly too low to cover costs, she said. Officials said the center was closed.
“The Golden West is a devastating closure, but it’s not the first time Boulder County has closed last year,” Corson said. “What we are hearing is that it is not sustainable to provide livelihood assistance at the rate Medicaid pays.
The county’s long-term care ombudsman program can provide residents with education and resources and make sure centers follow the rules, but she said they can’t find placements directly. With so few assisted living centers accepting Medicaid, displaced people may need to look outside of Boulder County or switch to nursing homes that offer a higher level of care but less independence.
“People who need to look somewhere else probably don’t have many options in Boulder County,” she said. Your options are limited.”
Mark Gites, whose 83-year-old mother lives in a separate apartment in the Golden West, said he was shocked that the assisted living section would close after just 60 days. He said his mother would love to live there, but she chose it because she thought she could move into her assisted living if needed as she got older.
“Whether she should be there or not, it’s really going to be something we need to think about,” he said. “I thought this was the place.”
He added that one of his mother’s friends has lived there for 20 years.
“You’re really asking people to stay away from their friends and community,” he said.